Safe Social-Site Surfing
Oh Social Media – It seems as if we can no longer live without you…
Looking back, it may have started with just a few social networks; but in today’s high-tech world the number of social media sites and applications has grown astronomically! We can no longer even name how many times we are connected, added, friended, linked and followed on a weekly basis. Due to growing technological capabilities, you can now connect to networks either via your computer or your mobile device from anywhere and at any time. You are never out of the loop!
New relationships are consistently being built and people are virtually interacting with each other as the new form of communication. However, it is important to understand that not everyone roaming around on social networks has good intentions. The following tips will help you, your business and your family stay safe while “Social Site-Surfing”.
One thing to remember is that it is much easier to upload something to social networks, than it is to expunge it! Anything which has been uploaded to your social profiles will always be accessible to some degree. Don’t post inappropriate pictures of yourself, as they may get into the wrong hands. This may include an employer, future employer or even a predator or scammer. Adding information such as your birthdate, location, or phone number will also make it easier for social predators to steal your identity. Stay on top of the information you are posting and make sure your privacy settings are properly configured. This can prevent an unknown and unwanted pair of eyes from seeing your profile.
Fake profiles – Don’t believe everything you see or hear!
The anonymity of social networks makes it easy for identity thieves, or your kids may know them as “catfish”, get away with their spiel. Fake profiles are easy to set up, making an easy outlet for some people to hide behind someone else’s name and picture. Similarly, accounts can get hacked and then be taken over by the hacker. If anything looks suspicious, trust your gut instinct and be careful! NEVER give out passwords, bank information, your social security number, or any other sensitive information via social networks.
Adding connections – Don’t accept friend requests from strangers!
Why would you want to do that in the first place? We are way beyond the phase of whoever has the most friends is the coolest (why was that even a phase to begin with?). Accepting random people as your “friends” or “connections” is comparable to opening your front door after a stranger rings the door bell without knowing the person’s intentions. You wouldn’t do that, would you? The same precautions should be used for social networks. By only accepting friend requests from people you know, you can marginally increase your safety!
Geo-Location Services – Do you really want everyone to know where you are at any given time?
When making the decision to turn on your geo-location , many times we are not taking into consideration the big picture! Often times our intentions are to share our location with our friends and family. However, you may be forgetting to consider the unwanted pair of eyes that will also have your locations easily accessible. By turning on Geo-Locations you are also by fault making your home address publicly visible. Although we are not discrediting this feature, awareness about using it with caution is very important to keep our families safe!
Take action – Cyberbullying and offensive content is flooding our social networks.
If someone is doing something on Social Media that is offensive to you in any way, please familiarize yourself with ways to stop them from continuing to do so – and teach your kids! There are so many versatile ways across of all social networks to take action. This includes but is not limited to removing someone as a friend; to reporting and blocking them.
Within Facebook’s settings, you can block messages, users, app and event invites, apps in general, and pages. You can also add friends to a “Restricted List” so that they don’t see posts on Facebook that you share only with friends.
LinkedIn lets you chose who can follow you, and just like Facebook you can block users. Simply go to that person’s profile and select “Block or Report” from the drop-down menu at the top of the profile summary.
Twitter allows you to block users so that the person won’t be able to follow or message you, and you won’t see any notifications from them. Twitter also lets you mute an account, which means that you won’t see their tweets in your Timeline.
All other Social Media networks provide very similar settings where users can easily block or report abuse.
Security Software – Make sure your security software is up-to-date.
Not that you should ever let this software expire, but this is particularly important when engaging in social media networking. By doing so, you are better protected against viruses, malware, and other threats. With this being said: if you click on a suspicious link, that software still might not be enough anymore. You need to be thinking twice before clicking on something that comes from an unknown source or leads to a strange website. Don’t just enter your passwords when prompted – make sure it’s a legit request and not a fake one to trick you into giving it away. Internet predators use many tactics to get you to spill your sensitive information: be mindful and cautious!
Separate Work from Family – Keep personal social medias personal!
As mentioned before: it is easy to create an account on any of the social networks. If you want to be extra cautious, you might want to consider creating one profile for your work life and one for your private life. That way, you can keep those two separate and unrelated. You would have to let your friends know to only post to your personal account, and don’t mention your spouse’s name or upload your children’s pictures to your work profile. If you are being tagged in a post that you don’t feel comfortable with, delete your tag and contact the person who uploaded it immediately. Better safe than sorry…
Online Games – Make sure you aren’t pressing your luck!
Aside from paying real money to speed up the wait or get better items, you might also pay for playing those games later: in loss of privacy. While online games and quizzes are a lot of fun to play and fill out to “reveal your past life” or your “reveal your true self”, they could also be a sneaky way of getting your private information. Online predators might be able to use these games/quizzes to figure out your address, your pet’s name, your work place, your maiden name, etc. Many times we forget that this information is also used as security questions for your online banking and other secure websites. Always think twice about information you are about to make public!