Social media has largely become successful because of the way that it allows people to share the minutiae of their lives. There are some real concerns here, however, that you should take into account in regards to how you use these services. There are some forms of sharing that, from a privacy perspective, are really not good ideas. They may be tempting at some times, but you should really give some consideration to how you use these services before you become the victim of a crime that was really something that you contributed to.
The main risk in social media interaction is oversharing. There are some ways that people commonly do this without realizing exactly how much of a risk they’re taking.
On Facebook, one of the most popular features allows people to schedule and promote events. These events can be anything from private parties to club nights and the system encourages people to RSVP to the events. This is great for promoters, because it helps them to engage with their clientele and to get an idea of how popular their events are. There are some real security risks here.
For instance, imagine one of your friends invites you to go out and you RSVP that you’re going. From that point, anyone who might want to know this information for less-than-honorable purposes now knows that you’re going to be at the advertised event at a specific time. If you’re looking to avoid someone who’s a genuine threat to you, you’ve just told them where to go to contact you. If someone wants to know when your house or apartment will be vacant, you just told them.
This can be a real risk. After all, you wouldn’t tell every single person you know well enough to have them on your social media account that you weren’t going to be home at a certain time but, by RSVPing, you just did exactly that.
Sharing Location Information
Some social media services allow you to check in at any location you’re currently at. This can be a very bad thing, since you’re announcing that you’re not home. Do this from a restaurant and anyone can safely guess that you’re probably not going to be home for at least an hour.
Be very wary of doing this. It can be a way to tell people were you like to hang out, yes, but it is also great information for anyone who’d like to drop by your house when you’re not there, for whatever reasons that may motivate that particular desire.
Posted from Mobile Device
Some social media services will tag posts if you put them up from your mobile device. Again, this lets anyone reading the post know that you’re obviously not in front of your desktop computer at that moment, which could be a bad thing to divulge. Remember that this tag usually shows up when you post from a mobile device, so consider whether or not there’s a reason that someone who could potentially access your feed should not know that information.
Limiting Your Feed
One of the chief complaints with the users of social media sites is that they don’t feel that their feeds and profiles are private enough. This is something of a curious complaint, of course, since these services never represented what they offer as something that their users have any real control over. Remember that any social media service can change their terms of service at any time and without any notice. They’ve gotten better about this, but you should still limit your feed.
The strictest privacy settings are usually the best ones to start out with. Make your profile unsearchable and make sure your profile doesn’t come up in search engine results. If you need to test this, go ahead and Google yourself and see if any of your social media accounts show up.
If someone has been harassing you, remember that blocking them only does so much good. They could access you from another account or use someone else’s account to do that. It’s best to limit your posts to your friends only and to not let people tag you in photos without your permission. There are plenty of other features that are always being introduced on these services that are very loose with your information, as well, so make sure you pay attention to see if any have been introduced and learn how to turn them off if they’re not appropriate for you.
A good VPN service can give you some privacy in terms of hiding your IP address and your Internet traffic and being smart about a site’s policies will help you stay protected. Being sensible about what you share on your social media account, however, is the single best way to keep yourself safe online.