The rise of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn has allowed billions of people across the globe to connect with each other online, whether it’s reviving an old friendship, sharing common interests, supporting political causes or professional networking. However, the ubiquity of social media has also contributed to a culture of oversharing personal information, and for too many people, that habit leads to the compromise of their personal data online and online privacy.
Fortunately, you don’t have to swear off social media forever to protect your private information from hackers, scammers, and other cybercriminals. It just takes a few common-sense steps to safeguard your accounts from those who would do you harm and truly maintain a strong hold on your online privacy.
Five Great Ways To Maintain Online Privacy
Maximize Your Security Settings
The first step in securing your social media accounts and harnessing your personal online privacy is tightening your security settings. Make sure your accounts are set to “private” and ensure that only people you have expressly approved to be in your network of friends are able to see your posts. You should also disable location services or geotagging in your settings, which can track your location and make that information public without you even realizing it.
It’s also advisable to log out of your social media accounts every time you’re done using them. Yes, it can be tedious and time-consuming to re-enter your username and password every time you want to check your news feed, but it’s also a highly effective step to prevent unwanted access to your account. It can also have the secondary benefit of reducing the amount of time you spend mindlessly scrolling through social media, since you have to make that extra effort to log in.
Use Strong Passwords and Change them Often
We’re constantly hearing about large-scale data breaches and hacking operations in the news, but it’s important to realize that we can play an important role in limiting the damage from those incidents by simply using complex, hard-to-guess passwords, changing them regularly and not repeating the same password for all of our online accounts.
This rule of thumb applies not only to social media, but to your computer and smartphone as well. A password manager can help you keep track of your passwords for online privacy without the stress of trying to remember dozens of different codes.
Delete Unnecessary or Unused Accounts
The fewer social media accounts you have open, the less likely you are to have your information compromised. Close accounts you’re not using, and be judicious about creating new accounts. New social media platforms are constantly being developed, but few will have long-term staying power.
Before you jump on board with the latest fad, be sure to investigate the developer’s policies regarding data protection and privacy. If their approach seems lax, don’t take the risk.
Limit Access to Your Accounts
Be cautious when accepting “friend” or “follow” requests, especially from people you don’t know in real life. Look out for red flags like newly created profiles, profiles with very few followers and accounts with profile photos that don’t show a real person.
You should also regularly audit your social media accounts to find out which apps have access to your account information and revoke access to applications you don’t use. When downloading new apps, don’t give permission for the app to access your accounts unless you’re aware of a specific reason why that access is necessary for the app to function.
Be Cautious About What You Share Online
When it comes to social media security, we can be our own worst enemies through the level of detail we choose to disclose online. Even information that seems innocuous, like a job title or birthday, can help hackers or cyberstalkers piece together your identity and use it to scam, defraud or harass you, simply based on your lack of online privacy.
Be as vague as possible for online privacy sake: instead of sharing your full address, just name your city or state; if you must share your birth date, omit the year. You should also refrain from posting information that gives clues to your specific location, especially if you’re traveling for work or pleasure; those details could make you vulnerable to real-life stalkers as well as thieves looking for an easy burglary target.
Even on professional networking sites like LinkedIn, where sharing personal details can be key to finding a new job or otherwise advancing your career, carefully consider what information you choose to make public. Don’t share details that aren’t relevant to your career goals, and if you post a resume online, remove private information like your address and phone number.
Online privacy is one of the most important digital things that you should be able to control. While it is possible to harness a good standing with your online privacy, it can be extremely time-consuming, very repetitive, and persistently obnoxious. This goes double for people search websites and data brokers.
Luckily, Removaly is here to help. with our free opt out guides and robust Removaly Defender subscription services, we have the tools to ensure you are well on your way to a more private, comfortably manageable digital trail.