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12 Tips to Be Safe in CyberSpace and Social Media


While social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) is a great way to connect with others, it poses numerous hazards to participants of all ages. Despite the fact that technology is constantly changing, the following recommendations should help you identify and reduce your risks.

  1. Understand that social media sites perceive you as inventory – a commodity they seek to categorize in order to provide their vendors and advertisers with targeted content.
  2. Share the minimum amount of sensitive information possible at all times, including during registration and ongoing use.  Do not provide your real birth date, your social security number, your address, your city of birth, where you went to school, your current location, or what your vacation plans are. Do not use or provide a work email address.
  3. Be very careful what you post – including text, pics, or other content. Remember that everything we do online is generally permanent and can possibly be breached or otherwise compromised at a later date.  Don’t post anything you would not want your boss, future employers, parents, grandparents, college recruiters, enemies, competitors, or even the police to see or read now or in the future. These include, but are not limited to, risky pictures, sexting, cyberbullying or videos, negative social or work comments, and much more.
  4. While it may seem convenient, do not allow the site to access your contacts.
  5. Like washing your hands after using the bathroom, delete all cookies after social media use.
  6. Social media users are bombarded by various online surveys encouraging you to participate. Do not do this.  Surveys such as these are often how advertisers or identity thieves obtain more information about you.
  7. When logging in to your social media site, or any web site, make sure the URL address bar in the browser is correct so that you do not fall victim to a cloned site that seeks to learn your username and password.
  8. Use anti-virus, anti-spyware software and install their updates regularly.
  9. Change your password regularly, and use passwords that provide a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols or 2 to 3 word phrases. While it is easier to remember passwords that are linked to names of your children or favorite pets, this is not advised.  Hackers can often figure out these names and determine your password more easily.
  10. Understand how to identify phishing scams which typically seek to have you divulge financial information or wire money.  These can be very convincing such as urgent emails from friends or relatives supposedly mugged while traveling, etc.
  11. Take the time to read and understand your social media’s privacy policy, settings, and options. Implement the most restrictive privacy level you can live with. Facebook, for example, has several types of user levels (friends, friends of friends, etc.). We recommend you do not go beyond friends.  Privacy settings are great, but common sense is king.  Remember that ANYTHING can be hacked.
  12. Find out how good your current settings are by visiting third party sites such as www.reclaimprivacy.org.

 Check back on Friday for more tips on what to check up on when your children are using social media.

© 2016 Mark Seguin