Now-a-days, most people have a profile on at least one social media platform, the most popular being Facebook and Instagram. There are many advantages to using social media: you can connect with friends and family from all over the world, you can find childhood friends whom you lost contact with, you can find people with similar interests as you, you can find out about important dates and events in your contacts’ lives, you can network with thousands of people in the field that you work in etc. Unfortunately, there are also many disadvantages to using social media: strangers can access your information and photographs, fake profiles exist to get information from you so that the person can get financial gain, paedophiles also stalk their prey on social media, people pay copy your photos and use them, cyberbullying is easy to do on any platform, etc.
Therefore, we have put together this list of ways that you can stay safe on social media platforms:
- Use 2-factor verification passwords – although it does take more time to sign into your account, having a two-step authentication process to gain access to your Social Media accounts ensures that even though someone may guess or find out your password, they still cannot sign into any platform.
- Know what your digital footprint says – everything you have ever posted online is accessible for your acquaintances and for criminals who may try to steal your identity or gain access to your financial accounts. Do not put private or sensitive information online for everyone to see, do not put your whole daily routine online, think before you post, ‘is it necessary to put this?’ You can still put fun posts on social media but remember to veto what you write first.
- Be aware of fake accounts – do not just accept every friend request that you are sent. Look at the information given about the person; do you know them already? Does their profile look genuine? Are you already friends with this person online? Report any accounts you suspect to be fake, to the platform they are on.
- Perfect Passwords – do not use passwords which are easy to guess, such as sequential numbers or your middle name etc. Incorporate letters, numbers and special characters into your password. Do not write your password down somewhere that it can be easily found. Change your passwords from time to time. Remember to use different passwords on each Social Media platform.
- Privacy Policies – look into the privacy policies of each platform you are on. Customise the privacy settings to ensure that you are in control of who has access to you information and who can see your posts.
- Third-party sites – refrain from using your Social Media accounts to sign into any third-party sites as this will send them more information than is necessary.
- History – Do not post a lot about your work or educational history because this would give a potential identity thief too much information about your personal life.
- Clicking on Links – Be aware of suspicious looking links or websites, spelling errors, weirdly written phrases are all signs that a hacker has control of that link of website and will try and access your computer/device.
- Harmful quizzes – there are many ‘fun’ quizzes advertised on social media, ‘What colour represents your name?’ ‘What does your name mean?’ ‘What star sign is your best match’ etc, these quizzes require you to give them your sign in information and therefore gain full access to your profile. Is it worth it?