Common Social Network Privacy Mistakes

social media security
In today’s technology based world, social media plays a large part in many people’s daily lives. The importance of maintaining your personal privacy while on social networks has only grown in recent years. Usage of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other sites and apps has become common, so even if you don’t personally use social media often, chances are you have friends and family who do.

While online social networks are indispensable for keeping in touch, interacting on a worldwide scale, and staying informed, many people make mistakes with their social profiles. These social media blunders can lead to potentially severe consequences, such as identity theft, fraud, stalking, and unwanted marketing.

Here are three of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Sharing Too Much Information Online

While social media sites and apps do need some personal information, oftentimes they ask for much more than strictly necessary. Items such as your home address, spouse and children’s names, birthdates, phone numbers, and personal emails are things that you probably don’t want freely available on the internet. Don’t forget that answers to things like your bank account’s personal security questions can be gleaned right off your status updates and posts if you inadvertently share those bits of information online.

In an effort to protect their personal privacy, many people use abbreviations or nicknames rather than the real names of their children or other family members when posting about or sharing images of them online. To monitor your personal data shadow, Googling your name on a regular basis and adjusting what information has been shared can be helpful.

Broadcasting Your Location

Most of the time, there isn’t much harm in people knowing what general country, state, or even city you live in. However, social media apps such as Foursquare and Facebook Places allow you to “check in” and share your exact physical location online. Broadcasting where you live, work, and play can especially become a major security issue if you don’t have the appropriate privacy settings enabled.

While it may be fun to “check in” at a new restaurant you just found, 90% of the time you do not need your location tracked constantly. Make sure you understand how location tracking or geotagging works, how to disable those apps, and how to set them so they only track you when you want.

Not Being Careful about What You Post

What’s put on the internet stays on the internet, and it can take a long time before that information disappears. Be wary of the images and pictures you post. You might be ecstatic about your new driver’s license, but don’t take a snapshot with it and show all that personal data online. Also keep in mind that even though apps like Snapchat claim to delete your images within a few seconds, whatever you send to another person can easily be screen captured and saved.

For the sake of your safety and privacy, the best rule of thumb before posting is to always ask yourself if you’d be comfortable with that post, image, or comment being made public.

About Dan Johnson

Dan has been involved with computers in the early 1990s with a 2400 baud dialup modem. Since then, he has been working on various internet projects for over a decade and makes a conscience effort to inform others about staying safe on the internet. Currently he works with IronSocket and some other online side projects, when not hiking through the pine forests around his house.

  • Anonymoose

    Nice article. I would also suggest stripping EXIF data from any photos you post online as well – a lot of cameras and devices nowadays record the GPS coordinates of your images.. So even while using a VPN your location can be narrowed down through EXIF data