February 06, 2019
PRIVACY AND FREEDOM
Sites like Facebook and Twitter have become the major social currency of our digital age, connecting billions of people around the world. Social media plays an unprecedented role in our society, one that even five years ago few people would have believed. Whether users tap into social media for entertainment, for news, for jobs or a combination of all of the above, it has become ingrained into the fabric of our global communication.
With a web that large and complex, however, come concerns about social media privacy issues. Is that message you’re shooting to a college on the other side of the world only being seen by that person? Are the operators of Instagram tracking and recording your activities to target you for paid advertising? How widely is your profile information available—to prospective employers and people you’d rather not connect with? These social media privacy issues have also risen to prominence as social media itself has flourished.
There is no clear answer to any of these or the countless other questions concerning social media privacy issues. However, research has shown that 60 percent of social media users want to better protect themselves on such sites, and there are some simple steps social media users can take to maximize their digital privacy.
You wouldn’t advertise your full name, address or phone number in the newspaper, so don’t advertise in on modern platforms like Facebook. Users do not need to use their full name so pick a moniker that doesn’t identify you completely, and leave profile boxes that ask for your address, phone number or other personal information blank. Similarly, select a standard photo, not one of yourself, for your profile. Only connect with “friends” you personally know; even be careful if you know the person’s name, as hackers often create fake accounts that copy a real “friend’s” photo and information.
Be careful about what you post, understanding that, once it’s on a social media site—even if you later delete it—there will always be a record of your post. Similarly, turn off your phone’s GPS if you’re posting from a mobile device, as your location may be inadvertently shared when you post on social media without taking that step. Do an overall sweep of your privacy settings as well, ensuring only the people with whom you are connected can access your profiles. As with all online accounts, select complex passwords that cannot be easily guessed and change them frequently.
Social media is a given fact in today’s society—but social media privacy issues don’t have to be part of that reality.
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