How to Stay Safe on Social Networks

Social networks have been increasing in popularity rapidly, revealing their incredible nature and covering the needs for communication and interaction with friends, family and acquaintances, business associates, companies and clients. Many things that add to the value of good social networking, and almost everyone enjoys spending time connecting with those who he keeps close.
stay safe on social mediaHowever, in the frenzy of using social networks beyond limits, mistakes can be made and being safe on social media could just be a mystery to many. In fact, there are hazards that many of us do not even think about when using social networking platforms. One might think social media safety for kids is only that’s in hot water, yes there are sites and apps dangerous for teenagers specifically, but the truth is – there is no exception in the world of Internet crimes.

So, we end up jeopardizing our privacy and integrity, to remain connected and benefit from the unusual nature of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumbler, Instagram, etc.

This is why a complete guide on how to stay safe on social media sites is a must have. In this way, everyone gets alerted on the potential threats that he has to deal with. Even though it may appear harmless to chat online and exchange sensitive pieces of information, display where you live or who you work for, you may be getting yourself at risk by doing all that. No need to panic, just stay vigilant and read carefully the pieces of advice we have gathered for you below.

What to Keep in Mind When Social Networking

There are many things that you ought to bear in mind when you go ahead with connecting online and sharing information via social networks. Let’s have a closer look at the details that will save your privacy and anonymity, without any impact on your social life!

First of all, you need to be cautious and think twice before sharing something online. These are the questions that should come to mind while “seriously” thinking how to keep safe on social media, especially when you are about to give away something valuable about yourself:

  • Do I actually know and trust all of my followers?
  • Are the privacy settings of the social network platform adjusted to what I want to reveal?
  • Do I know that all of my followers will respect my privacy?
  • If I want to share info of another person, is he aware of that?

Of course, there are some details that you should never, ever share online (under any circumstances). These details include your passwords, your address and your social security number, your birthday, your sexual orientation, your background in both education and employment.

All that might seem too much, but you can never be too sure of preventing frauds. If a great hacker has got such information and a photo of yours, you will be surprised at the things that he can do – even create a whole new ID card and get his hands on your credit!

Besides, you should not share your location with anybody. This can be proven extremely risky, given the fact that there are stalkers out there, and there are people who will want to do you harm.

Even if this is not a threat in most cases, you should not jeopardize your safety just to inform your friends and followers that you are out having fun at the mall or the cinema. Let alone the fact that there are cases when you do not want others to know where you are. That includes being tagged by friends and followers. Imagine you have informed someone you are at home and then being tagged having fun out in the open air – Not Good!

Apparently, particular attention ought to be drawn to the chatting options of social networking. Even though you may want to vent over a bad day at work or you wish to share a password or a classified document with someone you trust, Facebook and other social network platforms are not the ideal place to do so.

Instead, hacking has reached a whole new climax and therefore, your shared info is never safe and private. If you want to share something private, the Internet is not your friend – at least, choose encryption!

Last but not least, be vigilant and think twice before joining groups and pages. Such info is displayed on your profile, and it can reveal important details about you, your personality and your habits. Although this is not automatically wrong, it can hide dangers, and it can be an obstacle to your career or your relationships with others.

Extra Tips on to Remain Safe Online in Social Networks

  • Use Strong Passwords: If you want to stay safe and avoid a breach of your privacy, you should devote some time and focus on the best possible password for each social network platform.Among the things that you need to take care of is the uniqueness of the password, meaning that you cannot use the same password for every email and social network you have. This would be catastrophic, in case you get hacked! For extra safety, there are password managers you can turn to. They will generate strong passwords for you to make use of.
  • Log out When You Leave: Another thing that you should pay attention to is the process of logging out, as soon as you have finished your social networking activities. Do not leave your account connected, since this can trigger a lot of problems. Especially when you share an office or your home, an educational institution and so on, the chances are that you will get a breach in your privacy. Prying eyes are always there!
  • Do an Online Research: Googling your name can be absorbing and not always in a right way. Instead, you may find that somebody is impersonating you online. That includes fake social network profiles and even comments that you have never done yourself displayed on blogs, sites, etc. It is prudent to run some research at frequent intervals, in avoidance of such problems.
  • Do Not Be Overzealous: It is tempting to highlight just how happy and satisfied you are with your life. Still, adding followers only because they add to your overall group of friends and followers does not cut it as a safe tactic. On the contrary, social networks have been overwhelmed by fake accounts, and you should not risk adding fake followers – potentially dangerous to you.
  • Setup OpenID Accounts: OpenID is an open source standard for connecting to social networks. This can help lowering the percentage of identity thefts. More and more websites, services and apps allow OpenID. So, you can rest assured that this standard is welcome for the vast majority of the Internet. If you want to learn about how to use OpenID Connect (OIDC) for secure and seamless authentication on social networks, check out our guide on OIDC authentication.
  • Get Educated on Privacy Settings: There is nothing better than gathering all the information you need, so as to grasp just what the privacy settings of each social network are. See where your sensitive data can be used, why some details are collected, who can see and share your content and many other enlightening things. More specifically, you need to look at the information shared with third parties. Look out for “Protect Your Tweets” or similar privacy settings.
  • Comply with the Rules: Are you always searching for ways to breach the firewall of your company? Are you in need of interacting with others at school, using your school’s connection despite the restrictions applied? Well, we admire your creativity! However, such actions can get you in trouble and privacy can be breached. More than that, you ought to think well before you post something fun on the day you have called in sick!
  • Use Different Accounts for Different Purposes: It is not prudent to have a single account on Facebook and use it for business and fun. Your personal life should be separate from your working lives, and this can help limit the exposure you get on either of these accounts. If you simply need a way to interact with buddies, set up a personal profile. If you want to get in touch with business associates and clients, a different account is necessary.
  • Search for HTTPS: Although most of the sites nowadays start with https://, it does not hurt double checking. This is an added layer of security for you and in the case of social networking, this is most welcome!
  • Beware of What You Share: Although links appear harmless, you should not share them without any second thought online. You should be sure of the content inside, and you should make sure that what you share does not insult anyone or cause harm to anybody.
  • Do Not Use Public Wi-Fi: Unless there is a substantial reason for doing so, you ought to be cautious and avoid public Wi-Fi connections. Only in this way can you be confident of the privacy of your Internet connection. Even though free stuff appeals to us, in this case, you should be vigilant and use the private connection to the web. If you connect publicly, limit your activities to those that are needed and nothing else!
  • Use and Encryption Tool: Although almost all of the social networks do have HTTPS, you should still make use of encryption to completely encrypt your social activities and hide your real IP address. The easiest to use and best encryption tool is none other than the VPN (Virtual Private Network). There are a number of premium VPN services that will do the job nicely for you, but if I had to recommend one very best here – it’d be ExpressVPN. They are super secure (have most advanced security protocols) and fast!

Wrapping up

Social networking is of paramount importance to the vast majority of people nowadays. There is no reason you should give up on such a breakthrough of modern technology! Nevertheless, you should be prepared for maximizing the fun, without experiencing any of the drawbacks of social networks. You can avoid LinkedIn scams, secure your Instagram, avoid Facebook identity theft and a whole lot other issues – all in all,  keep yourself safe on “risky” social media by following above-provided tips. A win-win situation!

Featured/Top image from Flickr under “CC BY 2.0” free license

Stella Strouvali Stella is a certified writer and zealous wordsmith, a true fan of Placebo, technology, Panionios and wellness. Still, her true passion has to do with eagerly learning new things and passing them on to others. “An unexamined life is not worth living”, to quote Socrates.
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