Millions of people check into or disclose their location to at least one social media network per day. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube are the most commonly used networks that people use to share pictures, opinions, and other personal information. Although these sites were developed with great intentions they can be utilized and abused by those wishing to prey on others, or steal your identity. Social networks are a great way to stay connected with others, but you should be aware of how much personal information you post. Sadly all it takes is a little over sharing and you could become a victim. Staying safe in social networks requires more than just a good password; it requires striking a balance between sharing enough without sharing too much.
Here are a few tips to help increase your online safety!
- Only connect with people you know and trust: While networks like Twitter and Pinterest are typically safe for connecting with strangers because of the limited amount of personal information shared through them, sites like Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn typically share a bit more information about you. On those networks you should limit your connections to those you can trust.
- Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Learn about and use the privacy and security & security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.
- Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.
- Once posted, always posted: Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research found that 70% of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online!
- Know what action to take: If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site administrator.
Social media is fun, that’s why half the U.S. population participates in online social networking sites, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to protecting your personal information. Always be extra careful about what information you are sharing!