Do you use social media for business, pleasure, or both?  Many treat platforms like Facebook and Instagram as big popularity contests.  Amassing huge numbers of followers can be personally exhilarating – whether you want to feel like a rock star or build out a business.  However, it can also expose you to personal risk.

For example, even if you share posts and photos only with people you know and trust, those connections may not always cultivate awareness about sharing your information with others.  And even after you delete posts, others will still have access and the ability to keep sharing.  This is true on almost every social media platform.  

In general, it’s best to assume that anything you ever share has the potential to be seen by anyone, anywhere.

Being aware of how things are shared and what privacy settings are available can help you get the most out of your favorite platforms while staying safe and safeguarding your safety, privacy, and reputation.


Use these 5 common-sense tips to have fun posting without the bite-back factor:

1 – Don’t advertise when you’re about to take that long-awaited trip to Jamaica  

If you do, your home will be completely ripe for the picking.  Instead, wait to share your island sunset pics with all ten thousand of your devoted followers after you return home

2 – Don’t repost that silly Facebook live from last Saturday night’s pub crawl

You may not have done anything remotely offensive by singing “Whiskey in the Jar” at the top of your lungs … it may not embarrass you at all.  However, the glimpses of your colorful language colleague who kept throwing beer into the air could cause your employer (or potential employer) to decide your social persona makes you less fit for their desired corporate culture.  

3 – Run a search on yourself every now and then to see what information is available

In Facebook, you can view your profile as others would see it. Look at what shows up and adjust your profile and posts as necessary


4 – Remember: you’re leaving a digital paper trail with no delete option and unlimited potential copies

Once it’s up, it’s out.  Even if you delete a post, others could have already downloaded photos or saved screenshots. Even Snapchat, which was supposed to offer moderate security and privacy via the self-destructing photo is easily compromised with screenshot workarounds. Just Google it and see.

5 – Follow simple steps to protect your privacy and reputation on each platform

Facebook

To adjust Privacy in Facebook

  1. From your home page, choose Settings
  2. Click Privacy on the left-hand menu
  3. You’re now able to:
    1. Change who can see your future posts
    2. Limit the audience for old posts on your timeline
    3. Choose to limit friend requests to coming from only friends of friends
    4. Limit the people who can look up your Facebook profile using the email and phone numbers associated with your account
    5. Choose whether to link outside engines to your Facebook profile

You can also control privacy of individual posts right on your timeline.

Snap

Snapchat gives minimal privacy protection with self-destructing photos.  However, it’s not something you should ever count on.  It’s too easy to take a screenshot of a “snap.”  And users can save entire chats.  Your best defense is to limit communication only to include friends and be highly selective about what you post.  

If necessary, you can increase privacy by blocking individual users from viewing your data or sending you theirs:

  1. Tap the settings gear in the upper right-hand corner of your screen
  2. Tap to display your friends’ list.
  3. Select the name of the person you wish to block
  4. Choose “block” to cut off all direct communication with that person’s account.

Twitter

To reach your privacy and security settings on Twitter:

  1. Click your profile picture
  2. Select settings in the drop-down menu, and
  3. Choose security and privacy at the top of the left-hand vertical menu

Additional options on Twitter:

  • Review your privacy settings and choose whether or not others can find you on Twitter with your email address or phone number
  • Choose who can tag you: everyone, your followers, or no-one at all
  • Protect your tweets so they only go out to your followers.
    • When you protect a tweet, you’ll also be able to pre-approve followers – no one can add you without your permission. and only your followers will be able to view your tweets.
    • Protected tweets won’t appear in search engines like Google or Explorer. You and your followers will only be able to find them on Twitter
    • Your protected Tweets will only be searchable on Twitter by you and your followers.
  • You can choose to allow only your followers, no one or everyone to add you to their teams using the teams feature in Tweetdeck.  Teams allow multiple account users to share a single password.  If you allow this, team members can allow login verification to protect their accounts.  The team admin can take action on behalf of the team members – tweet, retweet, share, like, or schedule tweets
  • Consider tweeting with your location ID off.
  • If you don’t Twitter to track your browser, be sure to uncheck “Tailor Twitter based on my recent website visits” in your privacy and security settings.

It’s Easy to Share  

With buttons on every post and apps connecting everything we do to social media, it’s almost too easy to share. Remember to think twice before you click.


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