Monday, November 18, 2019

How to Stay Safe on Social Networking Sites


Communication through social networks has grown exponentially over the years. An important part of life for many people, this is due to growing communities online that have helped businesses and peoples interests to grow.

Many businesses today couldn't survive without a link to the outside world via social media. With all of the perks social media affords, it's really easy to forget the risks that are often overlooked.

Many risks that include stalking, bullying, criminal activity, identity theft and hacking.

Users and businesses need to follow some basic safety tips that are simple to remember and highly effective.

1. Don't Overshare on Social Media

Even when you own a business, sharing personal details to make yourself more human, becomes a primary part of your branding. Its okay to share a little bit of information about yourself, but for personal safety's sake keep your personal details such as; birthday, place of birth, home address, and phone number to yourself. Sharing any of these details puts you at risk of identity theft and fraud. Leaving credit cards lying around, and accidentally including them in photos or videos leaves you wide open to crimes ranging from identity theft to stalking.

2. Modify Your Privacy Settings

All social networking sites include default privacy settings, which are great to a point, but often not quite enough to keep you safe. By altering your privacy settings you can stop certain people from seeing your private information, or have the ability to unfriend people you're not sure of. These settings are helpful because they allow you to have better control as to what you want your friends and followers to see, and what the public sees. These adjustments must be made via the account holder and nobody else.

3. Restrict Information About Your Work History

LinkedIn is a popular social networking site that allows you to post personal information about your work history, which gives hackers and criminals insight into that person's life, which may help them to hack into someone's account. The information taken is usually used in identity theft.

4. Confirm Who You're Connecting To

People use false accounts for numerous reasons. You can usually tell by looking into a person's account if they're real or not. Many accounts are set up to misrepresent someone else or to make false statements about somebody in order to discredit them. Most false accounts are created to send people to malicious sites with the intent of committing fraud.

5. Moderate Your Comments - Beware of Impersonators

People impersonating other people is a big problem online, often you don't know who is who. Fortunately social network sites ask users to authenticate who they are and whether they are registered or not. You're also able to ask unwanted people to be removed.

6. Don't Overshare

These people love sharing every part of their life to the public, not realising who may be watching. For thieves and hackers its ideal territory to look for their next victim. You're daily or weekly whereabouts should never be shared, especially if you're going on holiday or already on holiday.

7. Investigate Your Own Account

Try searching for your account from the public's point of view. This way your able to see what the public and other users see. You can also see if anyone has an account setup using your name.

8. Understand Your Employers Acceptable Use and Boundaries Policies

Many people discover to their horror that they've lost their job because of their activities on social media.  All of this can be avoided by asking your employer or reviewing your employer's policies in your place of work.  Many of these policies involve what the user is sharing in terms of photos, or writing.  Employer's do this to protect their own reputation, but to also prevent loss of intellectual property, and data loss.

9. Understand How Your Information is Shared with Outside Sources

All social networking sites use their users information to share details with advertisers, partners and other outside companies.  Reading and understanding the privacy policy of any social networking platform will tell you exactly where your information is going.  Most people skip the small print and just agree to everything before they've even looked at the privacy terms.  These details should be looked into more thoroughly in case the company goes to a new owner, and the policies change.

10. Be Careful Who You Friend

Take the time to look over other peoples profiles before you friend them.  Having hundreds and thousands of followers looks good, but it also opens you up to negative behaviour such as spamming, and people with criminal intentions who want to take advantage of your account and followers.

11. Look Into Smaller Social Networking Sites

Sites such as Twitter and Facebook are great, but if you're looking for something a little smaller and more intimate try Ning, FamilyLeaf, or MeetUp.  Some of these smaller networks allow you to attract like-minded people in your own community.

12. Try Open ID for a Safer Log In

Open ID is a platform created to reduce the risk of passwords getting into the hands of hackers and thieves.  Allowing you to manage many accounts.

13. What Happens Online Stays Online

When you create images, and blog posts online they're permanent unless you decide to remove the link later on.  Otherwise its there permanently for all to see.  This means your information can be captured by screen shot and used on other websites or news sites.  For many people this can be harmful for relationships, future job prospects, and vulnerability online.

14. How to Block Unfriendly Followers

All social networks allow users to protect themselves from unwanted attention, by simply hitting the block button.  Once you've blocked your unwanted guest, he/she will no longer be able to have any interaction with you or your profile.

15. Make Your Passwords Complicated

Any account you use online should be given a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols to stop thieves from getting into your account.  Passwords should be changed regularly, and especially when a threat is found.

I'd love to hear your experiences with online safety in the comments below.
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