Safeguard your privacy on social media

It is easier than ever to surrender personal information via social media. Having a good understanding of privacy and your security settings is needed to help minimize the chances of sharing too much information, or sharing information with the wrong people.

You safeguard your personal information offline to prevent identity theft, fraud and to maintain your autonomy and freedom. The same logic applies online.

“[Social media sites] are now asking for information about when a loved one died, when you got your driver’s licence, when you bought a home, when you broke your arm, when you had surgery, when you completed your military service, etc.,” writes David Hall, social media expert and blogger.

“Before I surrender any information to my social networks, I always ask myself ‘How does sharing this information enhance my experience?’ If I don’t have a good answer, I often pass.”

Think before you post, share or upload. Here are a few more social media privacy safety tips, courtesy of David Hall.

  • Never share confidential information online, regardless of your privacy settings. Confidential information includes your complete birthdate, social insurance number, financial information and your home address. But you’d never do that, right? Yet a recent poll by Visa Canada found that 45 per cent of 18- to 34-year-old respondents admit to taking risks with personal and confidential information, such as texting their credit or debit card numbers. Put safety first, and treat all of your accounts as if they were completely public.
  • Privacy settings change often and are misunderstood. Check on your privacy settings every month or so to make sure they are still what you set them to. When social networks update their services, sometimes privacy preferences are lost or changed.
  • Don’t tag other people in photos without their consent.  
  • You do not have to add every person who asks to be your friend or connection. Delete requests from people you do not know or who you do not feel comfortable sharing your information with. Learn how to block people if your information is being abused or if you are being harassed or bullied.
  • Safeguard your passwords. Make them unique, and change them every so often.
  • Every couple of months, review what apps you have authorized to access your account information on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. If you don’t use the apps that you have installed, revoke access. These apps have access to lots of your personal information, so make sure to only authorize the ones you actually use. You may be surprised what you have authorized over the years.

Remember that once information or photos are shared via social media, it is almost impossible to completely delete and erase that digital history. Be smart, be safe and safeguard your privacy and personal information online!