With so many of us using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and others, privacy, security, and identity theft are concerns. What can you do to protect yourself and still post, comment, and tweet?
One important thing to remember on Facebook is that even if you have selected to have your information only show to your friends, it’s not fool-proof that only your friends will see it. If you are using any Facebook applications, these applications have access to the information you have put into your profile.
Perhaps the most important piece of information you will post on social media is your date and place of birth. If this information isn’t needed, don’t enter it into the site, or at least, do not enter the year and the exact location of your birth. Keep in mind though that if you provide information about your high school and the year you graduated, the birthdate and location may not be too hard to figure out. Using only the month, day, and a more general geographic location is preferable to the exact year and location. Giving specific information facilitates someone getting a copy of your birth certificate which is an important step toward identity theft.
Posting information about where you are isn’t always a great idea either. If you have these posts limited to your friends, and you are comfortable with your friends knowing where you are at any given time, you may be OK. But when you post pictures or submit comments from a location such as a football game, play, or restaurant, people reading those comments are going to know you’re not at home. This makes it easy for a burglar to target your home. Even worse, I have read posts where someone notes the dates they will be on vacation, giving a thief plenty of opportunity. It’s best to post comments about your trip after you get home.
On Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, it’s good practice to check all your settings and make sure your posts are visible only to those you want to see them. On Facebook, allowing “friends of friends” to view any information or photos is usually not a good idea. Also keep in mind that your friends can share your posts on their pages, thus opening up your information to a whole new audience. A picture of an exciting football game is fun to share, but if you have friends doing a lot of sharing, then their friends will see this post as well.
These are only a few of the more important tips. Please feel free to post additional suggestions you may have!