With the rise of social media networks and apps came an increased privacy concern. Data privacy has quickly become a global public concern that turned into a global issue, all thanks to the rapid expansion of the internet and IoT-enabled technologies.
Nowadays, the leading social media platforms like Snapchat, LinkedIn, Instagram, Telegram, YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok dominate the internet.
These networks enable users to share personal opinions, photos, videos, news, and everything else that makes them who they are with the rest of the world. However, this ability to share personal data online is the problem.
Why? Because it attracts unwanted attention from cybercriminals, hackers, and other villains. They want your data for reasons unfamiliar to you. In many cases, it isn't easy to understand just how far social media manages to track our activities.
So, suppose you want to have a social media presence, but wish to have a more private experience. Let’s see whether this is possible.
Read the privacy terms before accepting
Every social media website has privacy terms. Before clicking the accept button, understand these terms and what they imply. Since you’ll use your private information to register an account, it would be wise to know how the social media website plans to use your data. Of course, reading privacy policies is not that easy. For instance, Instagram made it to the list of companies having the most difficult-to-read privacy policies.
You should also ascertain how to remove personal details from a social media platform if necessary. Familiarize yourself with privacy features to better identify potential privacy vulnerabilities on social media platforms before sharing your life with other users.
Each platform allows you to keep your posts private or public. Take the time to customize your profile settings to ensure no unwanted recipients get their hands on your details.
In addition, most default privacy settings allow sharing of user data with third parties without users’ knowledge. You can limit the amount of your data across various platforms by adjusting the default privacy features.
Keep your biographical details private
Social media networks require you to disclose personal details to sign up for a profile, such as your name, address, age, date of birth, etc.
You can choose to keep this information private or public. We recommend keeping these details hidden to avoid data abuse and prevent your information from falling into the wrong hands.
Personalize your profile according to your needs, and minimize the number of personal details you keep on social media platforms. Think twice before you share personal information on your profiles.
You should keep general interests, social security numbers, current and former workplaces, financial information, and political affiliation to yourself. In the best-case scenario, third-party advertisers can use this information to target you with ads. In the worst-case scenario, hackers could use your information to scam or harm you.
Think twice before chatting with strangers
Social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram allow you to follow or make friends with other users. However, you should properly research the person who sent you a friend or follow request to see who they are, what they do, their interests, etc.
Many internet users create fake profiles on social media platforms to snatch personal data or scam users in various ways.
On the other hand, the people you accept as your friends or followers will have access to your private information, interests, photos, and everything else you’ve posted on your profiles. The last thing you need is to become a target for hackers and cybercriminals.
How to stay safe on social media
Since there’s an evident lack of privacy on social media by default, you should learn how to protect your privacy and stay safe online.
Here are the steps to protect your account data and secure your privacy:
- Set your account to private to ensure that only your friends can see your posts and pictures.
- Review social media settings to disable certain sharing and access privileges. For instance, you can disable apps from reading your contact lists. In other cases, you can also restrict who gets to view your profile. Also, you might check whether you are not sharing your location data unnecessarily.
- If you no longer use a social media platform, delete your account. Do not fall for tricks urging you to deactivate accounts. If you have made up your mind, delete the account. If anything, you will always be able to create a new one.
- Use a VPN. Accessing your social media profile via public Wi-Fi is like inviting hackers to come and get your data. If you must use public wireless connections, add a security layer using a VPN. A Virtual Private Network encrypts your internet traffic and ensures no data slips through the cracks. Thus, enable a VPN for Windows computers at your home, and use it when connecting to unknown public Wi-Fi, too.
- Create unique passwords for each social media profile. Make sure you use a combination of capital letters, numbers, and symbols to create strong passwords for your accounts. In addition, always use a different password for all social media accounts.
Social media networks are here to stay, and their influence on the modern world will only get bigger. There are even some predictions that social platforms are yet to play a vital role in keeping users safe by ensuring higher levels of data privacy.
Until that happens, stick to these tips to protect your privacy across social media platforms and apps. Whether using a desktop or mobile device, secure your internet connection with a VPN and avoid oversharing personal details online.