5 Ways to Guard Your Privacy on Social Media

Nearly half of the world’s people use social media platforms. It is no wonder that identity thieves consider social media one of the richest treasure troves of personal information.  And if your privacy settings are improperly configured, you may be giving too much information away for free.

  1. Keep your tribe small
    Connections on social media learn a lot about you- from seeing your vacation photos to learning about your personal triumphs and tragedies.  If your circle of “friends” becomes too wide, the odds of losing private information increase. Never accept friend requests from strangers.  Be selective about requests from “friends of friends”. 

  2. Use a fake birthday
    It feels great when friends on Facebook send you warm birthday greetings.  But your birthday is an important piece of identifying information that thieves could leverage to obtain other private records.  If you list a birthday on Facebook at all, consider sharing one that is off by several days or a week. 

  3. Don’t reveal your location
    This is a physical safety issue as well as a theft risk.  If you are posting your location information in real-time, without adequately robust privacy settings, strangers could be watching.  Don’t share your geolocation data on Instagram.  Don’t post photos while you are away from home on vacation.  Avoid ‘checking in’ to location on Facebook.

  4. Don’t Overshare
    Limit the information that you provide to social media platforms.  There is probably no need to share your phone number or home address.  Beyond that, consider your personal reputation.  The online world can be harmful, and the internet never forgets.  So, think twice before sharing embarrassing moments, inappropriate photographs, or overheated reactions to current political or social events.

  5. Ratchet up privacy settings
    Remember, the only way to keep information completely private is to never post it online in the first place.  But you can take action to leverage available privacy settings to your advantage.  Tune your privacy on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter as conservatively as you can.  Avoid (or limit) third-party apps that access social media data- their privacy terms and security protocols may be different the social media platform.