Social media has become an essential way for people to communicate with each other, keep aware of news, meet new people, support their causes, and a number of other vital social functions. With this level of importance, you would expect that people are extra secure with their social media accounts, but here are five ways they often aren’t.
Having a public account
In today’s world, it is possible to have your social media account be private or public. Social media platforms originally had very few features protecting a user’s privacy, and we hardly required it then. At the time, social media accounts were freely used by people to extend their social circles to strangers with fewer repercussions in terms of social media crimes. However, these crimes steadily increased in numbers as more people discovered the opportunities they represented. This led to more features allowing each user to limit the people who are able to view certain information of theirs on social media. Still not everyone is using these functions and that is a bad idea. At worst this means that people you had no idea existed are able to fully view every aspect of your social media accounts, without your permission.
To avoid this, switch your social media accounts to a protected status. This function is often located in the privacy tabs of the particular social media platform. Here you will be able to choose what people are able to view your posts and contact you.
Giving out your personal information
Very few people make the exceptionally bad mistake of posting sensitive information such as their social security number, credit card numbers, or passwords on social media. However, people post information only a little less sensitive. Personal information such as the names and birthdays of those close to you, your financial plans, details of your property, and other such information are often available for people willing to comb through your social media. This is just a mine for identity thieves who use your personal information and pictures to pretend to be you, so they can steal from you or commit crimes on others. Additionally, some of this information can be used to access your other accounts as some of the details are used for confirmation purposes. Think of the accounts whose security questions are “mother’s maiden name”, “name of first pet”, or “street you grew up on”.
The simple solution to this is to watch what you say on social media. Only make posts that do not reveal sensitive details about you or that could be used against you in future. Additionally, it is a good idea to comb your accounts for past posts that do just this, and remove them.
Giving out your location
Social media accounts are able to pinpoint your location using GPS services and will sometimes broadcast that information to people viewing your profile or your posts depending on the platform. This gives members of the public, some of whom mean you harm, specific information on where you have been and where you currently are. Sometimes it’s not even the social media platform giving out this information, but the users. People are fond of writing up posts about their location, their plans, their destination, and other such information. This makes it very easy for potential stalkers and burglars to plan according to your movements. This is exceptionally dangerous when you are away on a trip or vacation, and will not be back for some time. Your pictures or posts on social media alert those with nefarious purposes on just how much time they have to conduct their activities.
To fix this, you should simply turn off location services on your social media accounts. Avoid putting up posts that reveal details about your movements. And restrict the number of people who know you are away to people you trust. Pictures of you in a far off place should be posted only after you are back.
Sending sensitive information via social media posts
Social media is an avenue for people to communicate with one another. There are two major ways people do this. The first is through posts (pictures, texts, videos). These are viewable by everyone connected to that account and is meant for the general public to varying extents. The second way is through direct messages. These are limited to a specific person or people. Direct messages are used to communicate information not meant for the public. However, sometimes people use posts to share information better suited to direct messages. These will contain information on one of the parties in question better kept from the general public such as one or the other’s location, plans, personal details, and such.
Avoid this by confining your correspondence on official or personal matter to direct channels of communication. Try to impress the importance of this on those in your social network as well.
Having the same password for all your social media accounts
It happens from time to time that a person will get hold of the login information of one of your social media accounts. This is often terrible, but is made much worse when the person is able to use the same password to login to your other social networks. Having the same password for your Facebook, twitter, Gmail, Yahoo! mail, and any other social networks might be easier, but it is far riskier if any of these networks is ever compromised.
Make sure each account has a different and strong password. Pay attention to details in your account that suggest it’s been tampered with. A good password is a combination of uppercase and lower case letters, numbers and even symbols. It should not have any meaning, and it should not be a detail relating to you.
Social media is a fun and wonderful way for each of us to connect with people from all over the world. These tips are here to help you enjoy that, by ensuring it is never perverted by people with bad intentions.