Millions of people now use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and other emerging social networking platforms. With the ease of use that comes with these programs, it’s easy to divulge too much information too. Due to the popularity and overwhelming majority of people using Facebook and Twitter, the following social media security tips and suggestions are directed primarily at them. However, the overarching reasons behind these tips should be carefully examined in light of how you use any social media platform as well and adjustments in those programs usage should be made if needed.
Facebook Security Tips
Facebook is great and many people enjoy using it to connect with friends, family, and coworkers regardless of their geographic location. Facebook has many excellent features that allow you to share loads of information with people. But, do all of your friends need access to all of your information? It’s a question that you should ask yourself and determine if you need to make some changes to your account.
Here are some questions to ask concerning your Facebook account:
1. Am I okay with people who are not my friends being able to view my profile? If this makes you uncomfortable, then you should double check your Privacy Settings (click on Account when you are logged in to Facebook. It’s on the top right side of your screen).
2. Am I okay with all of my friends having access to every part of my profile? If you have co-workers or groups of people you’re associated with that you don’t necessarily want to have access to every part of your profile, there is a way to organize your account to restrict access to certain groups of your friends by creating Friend Lists. There is a great article at Mashable that details the steps needed to segment your friends into lists and set up permissions for those groups — “FACEBOOK FAIL: How to Use Facebook Privacy Settings and Avoid Disaster.”
3. Do you want to enjoy Facebook, but not necessarily want other people to be able to find you using Facebook search? There is a way to remove your profile from Facebook’s search results. When you are logged in, click on ‘Account’ in the top right corner of any Facebook page and then click on ‘Privacy Settings’. Once that page comes up, click on ‘Search’. While you are on this page, you can modify Facebook Search Results and Public Search Results.
4. You’ve uploaded pictures of yourself for your parents, friends, and relatives to view…but how do you keep other people from viewing your photo albums? There is a way to store your photos indefinitely on Facebook yet ensure that the only people allowed to view them are the ones you really want to see them. When you create an album, look for the ‘Edit Info’ tab and click on it. At the bottom of that section, there is a privacy section that allows you to control who may view that particular album.
Twitter Security Tips
Twitter is another one of the most popular social media sites on the web today. While most people certainly enjoy using Twitter and take advantage of being able to express themselves in 140 characters or less, it’s also important to consider just how much personal information you’re freely divulging through your account.
Here are a few features to think about when managing your Twitter account:
1. Location tweets. Twitter gives you the ability to do what it calls geotagging. Here’s Twitter’s own description of this feature: “Twitter’s Geotagging feature allows users who opt-in to the service to selectively Geotag their tweets with their exact location and provide more context to users about their surroundings. This great new functionality allows you to join into a local conversation and annotate the world around you as you travel from one place to another.” This is a feature that you must turn on…it’s not on by default. But, for those who are considering the use of it, we suggest you think about it from a personal safety standpoint first. Think stalker, disgruntled employee, etc. It may not be wise to give people your exact location…
2. Uploading and Sharing Pictures. As with Facebook, are you okay with letting any interested party see pictures you upload via Twitter? If thinking about this possibility makes you uncomfortable, then simply don’t upload personal pictures at all.
3. Do you want to use Twitter, but desire to have more control over who sees your tweets? If this sounds good to you, then consider changing your Twitter privacy settings. Simply login on Twitter, click on ‘Settings’ on the upper right hand side of the screen. Under ‘Account’, at the bottom of the page, you’re offered the ability to change your Tweet Privacy. If you click the box next to ‘Protect my tweets’, and then hit ‘Save’, you will have complete control over who sees your tweets. Only people you approve will be able to follow your tweets, which will also be hidden from the public twitter stream and timeline.
Our final tip applies to both Facebook and Twitter. When using one or both of these social media platforms, ensure that you maintain compliance with your employer’s social media policy (if one exists). There are more and more people who have been fired over poor Internet judgment. Just be sure you “think before you tweet” or let everyone know “what’s on your mind” through Facebook. Here are a couple of links to articles that display what can go wrong when Facebook and Twitter aren’t used wisely — “Twitter gets you fired in 140 characters or less” and “Govt. agencies, colleges demand applicants’ Facebook passwords.”
We hope that you’ll find these tips to be useful as you venture into the world of social media. Facebook and Twitter are both great ways to enjoy interacting with friends, family, co-workers and people in general. However, in order to maintain some personal privacy and safety, it’s important to think through how you use them.
Update: 24-Jun-2013 replaced article reference “Fired for Facebook: Don’t let it happen to you” with “Govt. agencies, colleges demand applicants’ Facebook passwords” due to former article no longer being available.