safe socialWhat do your childhood best friend, college roommate, your boss and your significant other all have in common? If you are one of the hundreds of millions of active members of one or more social networks, there’s a good chance that you are linked to them through an online relationship. Information shared with your online contacts allows you to keep in touch easily.

But who else may be looking at that information? How are they going to use it? There are things you may be doing on these sites that escalate the danger. Before hitting the “share” button, follow these safety tips for social media and make sure you’re not posting in one of these six categories. Most will likely strike you as “no-brainers”. But all of us occasionally turn a blind eye to safety when we’re excited to share something with our friends.

  • Home address
    I’m not just talking about typing your whole address onto your Facebook profile. “Checking in” and geo-tagging photos can reveal your address. For example, you can create your own geo-tags for Instagram photos. When you do this, it pulls your current physical location. If a majority your geo-tags point to the same location, those with ill intent can assume that’s where you live or work. Also, be mindful of other people who may tag your address.
  • Photos of kids
    One time you should be extremely cautious is when it comes to children and social media. When they’re not your own kids, ALWAYS get permission from their parents first. And even if they are your kids, you still want to steer clear of uploading images that may give away details including where they go to school.
  • Vacation details
    Telling people you’re away from home for an extended period time is an invitation to burglars. This doesn’t mean you can’t post photos from your trip while you’re on vacation. Just limit it to a select, trustworthy group of people rather than your entire network. Never post your entire itinerary.
  • Private photos
    I’m not assuming you would ever post nude photos on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. But you may Direct Message or Snapchat them. That’s still a bad idea, seeing as how no one but you can be trusted with those photos these days.
  • Credit card or financial information
    I really don’t know why, some people post pictures of their credit cards or drivers licenses on social media. Less obvious details you might unintentionally give away through Facebook or Twitter conversations include what bank you use, and your income range. Even your birth date and place could give hackers enough starting details to eventually gain access your financial information.
  • Password clues
    Online security questions aren’t the strongest, especially when they require information that you could easily give away on social networks. Your childhood pet’s name, where you were married etc … these are all specific details your larger social circle doesn’t need to know anyway. Check out my article on building safe passwords.

Social media has been a global game changer in almost every aspect of how we interact with others, whether close friends or casual acquaintances. How much of the change is good or bad, will be argued for decades. One thing has not changed. There are still people out there who have no qualms about using your own information against you, and to their own advantage. Social Media has simply opened up our exposure to even more of these people. If you keep these basic safety tips for social media in mind, your experiences with social media can be kept more to the positive side of the scale.

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