With all of the good things that we can do with social media, there are ways that more undesirable people can take advantage of you and steal your personal information or even cause you physical harm. Just like with email, text messages or phone calls, there are many ways you can stay safe on social media and have an enjoyable time using your favorite social networks.
Set up strong passwords and security questions
The same rules about passwords for your email, online banking and other accounts apply to social media. Make sure to create a unique password for each social network you use. Never share your username or password with anyone if they ask.
Learn More About Strong Passwords
Be selective with your friend requests
It feels great to rack up followers on the major social media networks. If you are getting requests from names you’ve never heard of or profiles that look fake, don’t accept them. These accounts may be set up to gather information on users and send spam messages.
Set up a secure location when meeting someone
Social media marketplaces let you buy/sell/trade with just about anyone in the country (or even world). If you are planning to meet someone to make a deal, choose a public place where other people are located to make sure you stay safe. If they are not willing to meet you in a public place and insist that you meet them at home, cancel the deal.
Don’t publish personal information
If you publish a post with your exact location, someone can find you. If you publish a post with your phone number, address or email address, a little bit of Googling can give you away and make you a target.
Also remember that everything that you publish online stays there forever. Sharing personal opinions and content is a big part of social media, but future employers and others can and will see those posts.
Use the strongest privacy settings
Every social network has different privacy settings. Make sure to dig deep into them to see what information you’re willing to share and with whom. Setting up the strongest privacy settings and sharing content only with the people you choose to is a lot safer than posting to everyone on your friend list.
Be mindful of links
We tend to think of phishing links coming from email and text messages. Social media can be just as bad. If you see a phishy looking offer that is too good to be true, don’t click on it. Once you click on it, the publisher can track you on both social media and through your web browser.
Know what you’re sharing
Before sharing a news article, infographic or meme, make sure to see who is publishing it and if they’re a legit source. Publishing false information about any topic can make you look bad. It can even get you banned from a social media network if you become a repeat offender.
Don’t respond to random messages from strangers
Almost every social media network has some kind of direct messaging feature. For the most part, they do a great job of weeding out messages from spam senders. However, spam finds a way to get through. Messages from the IRS, the police or other government agencies are always going to be fraudulent.
Sometimes, a person you know will have their account hacked and send spam messages to everyone on their friend list. If this happens, make sure to contact that person (by phone or text) to let them know that their account was hacked.
Close the accounts you don’t use anymore
Your interest in social media networks can come and go, but your account information can stay online forever. If you are not actively using a social network, make sure to close your account so your information isn’t still out on the internet. The worst thing that could happen is that your account could get hacked and someone can post spam or take over your identity.
If you find yourself becoming angry because of the posts in your feed or if you’re just spending too much time on social media, close the app. Social media is supposed to be fun. If it’s becoming a problem, it’s probably time to log off. Learn more about social media addiction from Healthline.