You can be confident using social networks when you’re in control of who sees what you’ve posted, or anything posted about you. Here’s a few tips to help you build that circle of trust:
- Be selective about with who you connect with.
- Did you know you can use your privacy controls to determine who can see your posts and information? On some networks, you can restrict posts exclusively to certain groups, such as your family or close friends.
- Assume that anything you post on social networks is not completely private. If you don’t want anyone to see what you’ve posted it probably doesn’t belong on social.
The best way to protect yourself against online identity theft is to limit the ‘digital crumbs’ a stranger can gather about you. This means being careful about putting personal information such as your home address, phone number or account details on public forums.
Why don’t you try checking your ‘digital footprint’ now? Simply log out of all of your social networks and then look up your name in a search engine and assess the results.
Careful posting on social networks not only protects your reputation but also your physical safety, something you may not have thought much about.
Some social networks will offer you ‘geo-tagging’. This means they can put your location information in your posts. Before letting them do this it’s worth asking yourself some questions:
- Does the service really need to know where you are to be useful?
- Could there be other consequences from revealing where you are or where you spend your time?
- Tempting as it is to put that post up to say you’re on the holiday of a lifetime on a tropical island, is it wise if your home address can be found online?
Another way social networks use tagging is when others post information and ‘tag’ you, for example, they have a photo of you and ‘tag’ you in it. You can set up an alert to let you know when this happens so you can see what is being posted about you and stay in control of your reputation.
Safe browsing habits are just as relevant when using social networks:
- Use strong passwords for all your social networks.
- Do not use the same passwords you use to log on to your online banking.
- Be careful with any unusual posts, such as a post from a friend recommending a website they wouldn’t normally be interested in.
- Sign out of your social network account when using a public computer.
- Hover your mouse over links presented in social posts to make sure they direct to a site you trust.