In today’s ever social world, your closest friends, family members, and colleagues are only a click away. But what has become an essential avenue of staying in touch, has also become a dangerous and invasive one as well.
Imagine having a Facebook photo of you imbibing a bit too much at a cousin’s bachelor party, passed on and viewed by your boss, or a video of you rock-climbing seen by your insurance provider. These are the sorts of things you need to think about to make sure that you aren’t unfairly treated or denied employment, insurance claims, or even get into legal trouble for some inane law you’ve broken that you didn’t even know existed.
Remember, Facebook knows everything about you, whether you decided to allow them to or not. Here are 6 social media safety tips that you should implement right away.
1. Change your Privacy Settings. If you haven’t already, adjust your privacy settings as soon as possible. Remember that essentially none of the privacy settings by default are activated—you’ve got to go into your settings and activate them yourself. Most would probably change your posts to be seen only by friends, but be warned that it will only affect your future posts.
2. Consider altering friendship levels. One of the best things about Facebook is ability to adjust and filter how information is fed through the pipeline. You can set up different levels of “friendship” that allows certain groups to view more personal information, without risking some of the posts that you’d find uncomfortable out in the open. Remember that the default filters don’t keep you safe, so put in the time to fiddle around with them.
3. Third-party apps can harvest data from you. Games, quizzes, even Skype can harvest information from your profile the moment you accept their terms of service. Many apps collect innocuous information, like your age, or hometown, or your gender. Others dig deep into your profile, ignoring your privacy settings, like your religious affiliation, political leanings, or sexual orientation.
4. Untag yourself from unflattering photos. Pretty self-explanatory. Ask your friends and family not to post or tag you in photos without your permission.
5. Our Facebook friends offer clues to our own interests. A 2009 MIT study found it was possible to determine with great accuracy whether a man was gay based on factors including the percentage of his Facebook friends who were openly gay, even if this man did not disclose his sexual orientation himself. Take a close look at the interests mentioned by your Facebook friends on their pages. If more than a few of them discuss a dangerous hobby, glory in unprofessional behavior, it might be wise to remove them from your friends list or to make your friends list private. If several of your Facebook friends list a potentially risky or unhealthy activity, such as motorcycling, cigar smoking or bar hopping among their interests—or include posts or pictures of themselves pursuing this interest—an insurer, college admissions officer, employer or potential employer might conclude that you likely enjoy this pursuit yourself.
6. Unlink your accounts. Just like how I mentioned third-party apps harvest your data, Facebook can harvest data from accounts that you’ve linked, and vice-versa. Make sure you unlink the accounts from each other to maintain control over the information that each account has, like Gmail, or Twitter. Although linking accounts is convenient, it also creates more risk.
Most of all, remember that Facebook and other social networking sites are social by nature, which means that they are designed to share information with others. The responsibility to protect your personal and private information doesn’t just fall on the social networks; it is also up to you. Following these Facebook social media privacy safety tips can help you succeed in keeping your most personal information safe.