Staying Safe on Social Media
Since the dawn of the internet, dangers have lurked around every virtual corner. As more and more people began to venture into the digital realm, more and more criminals, thieves and unscrupulous people found their calling – and living – in various forms of crime.
With the advent of social media, these trends have only exploded in growth. From identity thieves to child predators, it’s more important than ever to keep a watchful eye on your activity and that of your friends and family.
Staying safe on social media is easier than you might think, but it requires being proactive and smart about your activity. Let’s look at what you can begin doing today to stay safe on social media.
Secure Your Account First
Before you can truly be safe on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you must first batten down the hatches. This means establishing a safe password that nobody can guess from knowing you or knowing anything about you. A strong password should include numbers, letters, symbols and a mixture of lower and upper-case characters. Additionally, some social media platforms offer two-factor authentication: where this can be used, please take advantage.
Many dangers that occur on social media happen because accounts are compromised. The easiest way to stop this from happening is by ensuring a strong lock on your virtual front door.
Avoid Filling Out Personal Information
You wouldn’t believe how much people can tell about others by what they post on social media. From birthdays and addresses to their work schedules and hobbies, all of this information can be used against you. The least damaging crime one can suffer from exposing too much information is identity theft; the worst may involve home burglary and other heinous crimes such as sexual assault. Sherwin Arzani at City Wide Law states that “an increasing percentage of my clients have found themselves vulnerable due to information shared on social media”.
In short: don’t talk about when you’re going on vacation until after you get back, don’t post photos that detail the inside of your home, and do not provide any more personal information than is necessary in public posts and comments.
Don’t Trust Anything You Click
Social media is, frankly, filled with garbage. Much of it comes in the form of clickbait and is relatively innocuous, but some of it is designed to be much worse. Common examples include links to websites that may look like official banks and financial institutions, major corporations and trusted brands, but nevertheless, are schemes to collect personal information and/or money from you. Some even contain ransomware that can completely wreck your computer and hold it hostage.
If any link or page from social media asks for your password or personal information, turn back. Use a search engine or your own memory to navigate to the website in question instead.
Social media is designed to be social by definition. However, this is meant to be enjoyed by friends, family members, and acquaintances. It is never a good idea to connect with or strike up conversations with random strangers who approach you, whether it be in the digital realm or in real life.
While most people encountered on social media are real and innocent, a select few may be fake personas attempting to collect information or money from you. It’s best to avoid any one-on-one private communication with somebody who you don’t know offline, so make the right decision.
Much of how to stay safe on social media involves common sense: simply think about situations like you would in the real world. However, given that everything you post is potentially visible to the entire world, a bit more cautiousness and privacy are needed on top of that. Follow these tips and you’ll eliminate the vast majority of risks associated with social media use!