Social media safety: how to protect yourself and your content

social media 1

Image via socialmediatoday.com

by Briana Piercey

We live in a world that is totally saturated with social media. Being constantly connected is the new standard. If you don’t post, tweet or “snap” a video of your every move, people may just assume your life is boring. The problem is, this habit can cause people to share too much, which can have much worse consequences. Let’s just say that everything isn’t meant to be posted.

There’s an old saying: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” When it comes to social media, though, it’s not how you post, it’s what you post. Social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are platforms where people brand themselves — whether they intend to or not. Posting without careful thought can create unnecessary risks, and although social media sites are great for sharing and connecting with others, they can also taint your professional image.

Control your content

Some people may think that if their profile pages are set to private instead of public, they’re protecting themselves. Although that’s ideally true, that’s not always the case. Despite the general privacy settings on a person’s page, the content they share is often available to “friends of friends,” which greatly increases the number of people who can see their post. Always check your privacy settings to see who exactly can view your content.

The “non-renewable” post

When on a social site, think of your control of your content as a non-renewable resource; once you’ve used it, it’s gone. When a Facebook or Twitter user hits that post/tweet button, that status leaves their control, never to be returned. Of course, you might have the option to delete specific content, which may provide a sense of authority as a social media user. However, websites often keep caches of everything people post and other users are able to take screenshots of content. By the time you delete something, it may already be too late. Once you post, you can delete but you can’t hide.

Social media safety

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Image via teamjimmyjoe.com

Along with potentially damaging your image, being careless on social media can also pose risks to your physical, financial or legal safety. Features such as location tracking or the contact information section of your profile page, for example, can reveal more than you might think. Crimes related to social media have increased at an alarming rate in recent years, so if you want to be cautious, here are a few tips for staying safe on social media:

Don’t announce your every move

“I just brushed my hair in the bathroom on 122 Lane Avenue and I’m headed to the Lennox shopping center all by my lonesome!” Okay, so this is a bit of an exaggeration, but it definitely simulates posts made by our fellow social media addicts. Publicizing your every move keeps family and friends informed of your whereabouts, but it updates potential predators as well. Play it safe and spare us the details. Simplicity is key.

Know who your friends and followers are

Contrary to what they would have you believe, not everyone on social media is your friend, and some may even have ill intentions from the moment they message you. Avoid accepting friend requests from people you don’t know and be aware of who’s following you. It might help you steer clear of hackers or other potential threats.

Avoid using profanity, images with alcohol, or other questionable content

smeblog3Regardless of what you’re told, don’t think future employers, the Greek organization you’d like to join or even potential predators won’t do their research ad check your social sites.

Here’s a good rule of thumb for knowing if something is okay to post: If you’re not sure whether or not you should post it, #DontDoIt.

 

Are you conscious of your social media content? Do you have any tips to help people stay safe on social media? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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