If you’re a serious social media user, you’ve probably got some basic safety protocols already in place. But we feel that you can never be too safe, so for all you savvy social users we’ve rounded up some advanced tactics to guard your safety both online and off.
Tip #1: The right mindset
Understanding that what goes online stays online – practically forever – is something that social media users of every age should know. When sharing information online it is important for people to realize the permanence of what they post, share or even download. Once information goes on the Internet through social networking it is difficult, if not impossible, to remove. Even for platforms such as Snapchat or Instagram stories that “disappear” within 24 hours, the information may be captured via screen shot and shared anywhere, anytime. Depending on what was originally submitted, those deleted posts can prove detrimental for future job prospects, relationships, and even leave a person vulnerable to crimes.
Tip #2: Social media scams aren’t always on social media
Guess what? Social media scams can often start elsewhere – such as in your email inbox. You can receive legitimate emails from social media sharing information or news such as new followers, comments or confirmations of actions you take. But there also can be emails that just look like they are from your social media, but they’re not. Here’s one tip that’s a universal to keep yourself safe: If any email, no matter how legit is looks or reads, asks for your username, password or other personal information, it’s most likely a scam. Social media sites will never ask you for your username and password in order to verify your account through a private message.
Messages that ask you to click on links in the email should also be avoided. Links can be shortened or altered to look like they are from your social media account but are hiding the true destination that is probably set up to steal passwords or other personal information.
Tip #3: Blocking and unfriending is OK
This is an important lesson especially to be shared with children and teens. Social media opens up a world of potentially fun, friendly and positive new connections – but unfortunately the potential for crossing paths with criminals, bullies, and other negative interactions is there too. Nearly every social networking platforms gives users a way to protect themselves from harassment or unwanted contact. When joining a social network, familiarize yourself with how to block another member – and don’t be afraid to use that option to protect yourself.
Tip #4: Embrace two-factor authentication
Did you know that there’s a way to keep people out of your account even if your username and password are stolen? It’s called multi-factor authentication, two-factor authentication, or login authorizations and it’s something you should start doing right now. This works for social media, banking and a variety of other online accounts. Start by adding your cell phone number to your profile information, then enabling two-factor or multi-factor authentication. This means that when you log in, you will receive a special code via text to enter in an effort to make sure you are an authorized user.
Tip #5: Don’t use social credentials to sign into other websites
Many third-party websites give you the option of registering using Facebook, Google or other social media account credentials instead of setting up new usernames and passwords. These shortcuts are tempting, especially because it’s quicker and easier than setting up a new account, but think twice. By using this option, you are giving that website access to much more information than you think. If that site is hacked, or your social media is hacked, that person now has access to multiple accounts across the board.
Tip #6: Avoid quizzes and games that require access to your profile
Fun quizzes and addictive games that seem so harmless on social media can often just be information-siphoning funnels. When you agree to give them access to your friends, posts, photos and other profile information, the wording often stresses that they won’t post to your feed without permission sounds very reassuring. However, what they don’t tell you is that now that they have access to your personal profile information and the info of your friends and activity, they can sell or share that information to outside companies for marketing, sales and spamming purposes.