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With Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica scandal in the news recently, it’s perhaps no surprise that people are looking for practical, everyday ways to button up their social media profiles and better control what they are sharing with the world every day. If you are looking for ways to protect your social media profiles from prying eyes, here are a few practical steps that you can take…
#1: Use better passwords
Unfortunately, too many people still use easy-to-remember passwords like, well, “password.” Or they simply use their birth date or phone number as the password. Guess what? Even a junior hacker can get into your social media accounts and start posting content while pretending to be you if you are using weak passwords. Even worse, they might be able to get in there and start grabbing some very personal information about you.
#2: Beware of online scams
It pays to be vigilant anytime you receive a friend request from someone that you don’t recognize. Online, people are not always who they say they are. And, on a related note, you should be particularly aware of online phishing scams. The classic phishing scam is an email from a hacker masquerading as one of your favorite social media networks. You might be told that your account has been compromised, or that somebody is trying to access your information, or that your account will be shut down soon. All you have to do is – you guessed it – follow a link and input all of your personal information (or, at least, your password), and disaster will be averted! So always check the names, addresses and websites of anyone asking for sensitive information. You might just find that the urgent message from “Mark Zuckerman” of “Facebook” is really just a scam.
#3: Limit access of personal data to third-party apps
The whole reason why the Cambridge Analytica scandal started in the first place is because users gave all their personal data to a third-party Facebook quiz app. So always be careful which apps you authorize to use your personal data. Admittedly, this can get a little tricky. That brand-new camera app that you install, for example, is almost certainly going to demand access to your personal camera roll on your phone. And any messaging app is similarly going to demand access to all of your personal contacts. That’s why you really need to make a regular habit of culling the list of which apps can access your data.
#4: Be careful with geotags and social media on mobile devices
It’s tempting to add all kinds of geotags to new photos you’ve posted on Instagram. That incredible new vacation photo is just screaming out for a geotag like #HawaiiVacation, right? Well, it can also be a signal to people that you’re away from your house right now, and if they really wanted to stop by and relieve you of a few cherished possessions, this might be as good a time as any.
The same goes for parents posting photos of young children – the last thing you want is for a potential predator to know the exact path your child takes to and from school! And if you’re a runner who is regularly uploading data from your Fitbit device, just be aware that any tech-savvy cyber stalker will have no trouble triangulating your coordinates and finding the exact location of your home!
We live in an era of over-sharing. Some might even say that we live in the post-privacy age. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t take simple, practical and easy steps to safeguard your social media profiles.