Social Media Safety Tips – How to Maintain Your Privacy Online

When it comes to using the internet, it’s important to be cautious about what you share and where. Social media is a great tool for staying connected with loved ones, however, there are bad actors out there, too. That’s why it’s necessary to keep your account secure and your information private. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can ensure you have everything covered.

1. Keep Security Software Updated

You’ve likely already been advised not to download or install anything that seems suspicious. However, you should always also keep your security software up-to-date.

2. Use a Password Manager

While most password managers aren’t free, they can seriously help simplify your life and ensure your security. Programs like LastPass, KeePass, Keeper, and Dashlane help you create strong, unique passwords for every website you use. They’ll also make it so you don’t have to worry about remembering them either.

If you choose not to use a password manager, we still highly suggest creating unique passwords for every website visited. You may want to write them down somewhere safe, especially when using special characters and capital letters, which many sites require. Never share your passwords online. Remember, no reputable company will ever ask for your password.

3. Check Your Privacy Settings

Nearly all social media sites have privacy settings that can be adjusted for heightened security. Make sure you’ve adequately adjusted yours before you begin posting. This way you can ensure you aren’t openly broadcasting information that you only want friends and family to see.

4. Report Harassment

If you find yourself being targeted by cyberbullies or being harassed, don’t hesitate to report abuse. Almost all social media posts will have a way to flag them for having objectionable content.

5. Be Careful with Personal Information

If a website asks you to share personal identification information, be extra cautious. Do not share your social security number or bank account information online. We highly suggest not sharing your birth year publicly either.

Other bits of information you should avoid sharing include answers to common security questions. These include things like your father’s middle name, your mother’s maiden name, and high school attended. If a website will let you create your own security questions, we recommend you do so.

6. Be Selective with Friend Requests

Be wary of unexpected friend requests, even if they’re from someone you know. Sometimes identity thieves will create accounts using the names and photos of people you’re already friends with to trick you. If someone you don’t know sends you a friend request, do not feel obligated to accept. Fake profiles are a rampant issue on some social websites.

7. Don’t Give Up Your Friends’/Family’s Information

Avoid giving social sites information on your friends and family. While most social sites suggest scanning your email address book for friends, we must advise against this. Not everyone wants their email address or phone number in various social networks’ databases.

8. Beware of Fishy Messages

If a message seems unusual to you, take heed. Hackers can sometimes break into insecure accounts and message the original owners’ friends. If you suspect something’s up, use an alternative method to contact your friend or family member. This is especially true of messages containing links or invitations.

These are just some of the ways you can protect yourself online. You might also want to talk to your children and/or grandchildren about what to look out for on social media.