Social media has many benefits. It allows you to maintain connections with friends, make new contacts, build support networks, express yourself, and share your interests. However, information should be shared with caution to protect yourself and your family. Here are seven top tips for social media safety:
1. Your personal information should be just that—personal. As hackers become more and more sophisticated, identity theft becomes a greater risk. And while it may be tempting to post pictures of your fabulous vacation, bear in mind that you’re also letting others know you’re away from home, making you vulnerable to a break in.
2. Use privacy and security settings to limit who can see what you share online. You wouldn’t give details of your private life to complete strangers in person, so don’t do it online either.
3. Remember that what you post online will stay online, so consider the long-term consequences. Could your social media presence prevent you from securing a job in the future? Would you want your coworkers to see this side of you?
4. Let your social network know your boundaries. For example, if you don’t want images of yourself or your children posted online, let your friends and family members know.
5. Know what to do if someone is making you feel unsafe online. Some steps you can take include blocking the offender, reporting the person to the site administrator, and removing him or her from your friends list.
6. Social media doesn’t just spread information; it can also spread viruses and other risks to your computer. Defend your system by using the latest security software and web browser and installing updates regularly.
7. Protect your social media accounts by using password best practices. Long combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols are the most secure, and separate passwords should be used for each account.