Ten Tips for Staying Safe on Social Media

113911878Most people use social media in some form or another to share information and keep in contact with friends, family, coworkers and whoever else they know, but when you’re putting out a bunch of information for anyone to see, there are certain risks you need to be aware of. Here are ten tips for keeping yourself safe on social media:

Use a Strong Password

Your password is one of the first lines of defense against someone hacking your account, so you actually do want to make sure you use a tricky combination of letters, numbers and symbols. And don’t use the same password for all your accounts either, since if one account is taken over, the rest will be as well. Instead, create a separate password for each account and use a password manager so that you don’t have to remember them all.

Keep Your Antivirus Software Updated

Using decent anti-virus software is a must whenever you’re accessing the internet. The last thing that you want is to click on something on a social media account and find yourself plagued with unwanted malware or spyware. Some of the newer viruses are so advanced that you may not even notice they’re there until it’s too late, so be proactive and try to stop them before they even get a foothold on your machine.

Use a VPN

When you connect to a WiFi network, you’re potentially allowing hackers to access information about you that could assist them in stealing your identity. This is because information such as passwords and PIN codes that you share with sites isn’t usually hidden from view, even though that may seem logical, but a VPN will keep everything behind an encrypted shield that is difficult for a hacker to crack. The best VPNs will offer encryption for all of your devices, and although it’s especially important to use one when you’re accessing public WiFi, really, if you have one, there’s no harm in using it all the time!

Don’t Post Every Detail of Your Life

Every detail that you share about yourself on your social media account is a detail someone could use to steal your identity, stalk you or do something else equally horrible. It’s difficult to think that way when you can’t see your audience, but know that if you put it out there, it’s potentially viewable by anyone—not just your group of friends. Don’t share information about your whereabouts with a ton of strangers, and make sure you know what information you should never be sharing online.

Sort Out Your Privacy Settings

All social networks handle privacy settings differently, so make sure you know what you can and can’t set and adjust things according to your needs. A general rule of thumb is to limit information to be viewed by as few people as possible.

Know What Companies Can See

Even if you’ve adjusted your privacy settings, you need to remember that everything you post on a social media account is viewable by the social networking company in addition to the people on your friends list—and a lot of times, companies will use that information and distribute it to third-party companies to provide you with targeted advertising, etc. Again, if you don’t want strangers to see something, don’t share it.

Remember that Everything is Out There Forever

One of the scariest things about the internet is that nothing has an expiration date. Even if you delete something off your account, it’s still logged there in the system and could show up somewhere else at some later date. Maybe something might seem okay to post now, but if you won’t want it to be out there ten years from now, you probably don’t want to post it.

Limit Your “Friendships”

Too many people view social media as a place to compete to see who has the most friends or the most “likes” on their images, etc. But the more friends you have, the larger your audience is—and also the more likely it is that someone else will be hacked and will share something unwanted with you. At least for the most part, you should only accept friendships from people you know in real life—and if you notice anything suspicious, make sure to block the person and notify the site about it. It’s always better safe than sorry!

Don’t Trust Everything You See

When you’re scrolling through your social media feed, use a little common sense. Even if something appears to have been posted by a friend of yours, don’t click on it if it seems strange or spammy. And if it sounds too good to be true, know that it probably is. There are, of course, some legitimate social media contests and things like that, but you definitely need to be careful.

Get Away Sometimes

Especially with smartphones, it’s easy to find ourselves plugged in to social media all the time, but this isn’t always the healthiest way to live. Not only can social media be a huge time-suck that makes us less productive at work and in our relationships, but it can actually be unhealthy as you start to blur the line between reality and virtual reality. Set aside some social media-free time where you can get out and meet people in real life.

What else do you do to keep yourself safe online? Let us know down below in the comments!