Most social media sites have some form of security in place to protect user data. However, it is important to remember that no system is 100% secure and that users need to take their own precautions to protect their data. Stories of major data breaches make headlines regularly, and even small-scale attacks can have serious consequences.
Here are some tips to help you stay secure on social media.
Be Careful What You Post
An Instagram post of your dog, a Tiktok about a day in the life of retirees at senior living facilities, a tweet on your anniversary – once something is posted online, it can be very difficult to remove completely. For one thing, other users may have saved or copied the information. Second, posts may still exist on the servers of the social media site.
In particular, avoid posting sensitive personal information such as your Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account information. The consequences of such information getting into the wrong hands could be severe from identity theft to fraud.
Think Before You Click
You’ve likely seen those bogus “click here to win a free iPad” offers that show up on social media from time to time.
Links are a common means for attackers to spread malware or steal login credentials. They may be sent to you via direct message or shared by someone in your social media network. Sometimes attackers will even create fake social media accounts with elaborate posts in an attempt to trick people into clicking links.
Before you click on any link, take a moment to examine it carefully. If it looks suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is. You can hover over the link to see where it will really take you, but that isn’t always foolproof – attackers can make links look like they go to one site but actually take you to another.
A better bet is to type the URL into your browser manually or use a search engine to find the page you’re looking for.
Consider Setting Your Accounts to Private
Most social media sites have privacy settings that let you control who can see your posts and other information. For example, you can limit who sees your posts to friends only, or make it so that only people you approve can send you direct messages.
Remember, though, that even if you have your account set to private, there’s no guarantee that your information will stay completely confidential. After all, your friends are also human, and they may accidentally share something that you intended to keep private.
No matter how you use social media, taking some basic precautions can help you stay safe online. By being thoughtful about what you post and what links you click, you can help protect yourself and your accounts from harm. And by keeping your accounts private, you can further reduce your risk.