Social media is all about sharing, but it’s hard to protect your identity when you are posting and tweeting all day long. How can you keep your private information to yourself while sharing your thoughts with the public? It takes a combination of understanding how each social media platform works, which settings to choose, and how to use it. Here’s a quick crash course on four of the most popular websites today.
General Social Media Tips
- Use different passwords for every social media site and email account you have. If one gets hacked, do you want to give the hacker access to every account?
- If you have kids, don’t use their names on social media. Use a nickname, their initials, or even “Kid 1” and “Kid 2”. Protect their identities too.
- Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want to have surface during a job interview. Companies can always find those drunken college photos or controversial tweets.
Facebook lets you decide if every post, link and photo is shared with no one (Only Me), your Facebook friends (Friends), the whole world (Public), or specific individuals (Custom). Use these privacy options to protect your information.
Account Setting – Don’t use your complete name, instead choose your first name and initials, a nickname, or your favorite celebrity’s last name. I know I won’t be Mrs. Pitt or Mrs. Clooney in real life, but I can pretend online and protect my identity at the same time.
Privacy Settings – Be sure to set your Default Privacy Setting – this will set the privacy for any post in case you forget to. Under Timeline and Tagging, adjust these settings to determine who can write on your wall and who can tag you. If you want full control of what others post on their own pages, either choose the setting to “review tags” or don’t allow others to tag you in their images and posts.
Twitter is a public forum where everything you share is public to the entire world (unless you choose to make your account private.) If you are using Twitter for fun, use a screen name that doesn’t identify who you are. Use a nickname, and keep your personal information to yourself. If you plan to use Twitter professionally, you can use your name and your company name or profession, but be sure to keep your tweets professional.
Settings – Do not check the box next to “Add location to my Tweets”. If checked, everyone will know where you are, and people or employers can figure out your identity.
On Pinterest it’s easy to keep your personal information secret, but Pinterest encourages you to connect with friends from Facebook, Twitter and Email. Every image that you “Pin” will be seen by your friends acquaintances, and people you don’t know. It is fun to pin images that resonate with you, but be careful, your pins could provide clues to personal information. You don’t want others to figure out that you are having a baby, quitting your job, or planning to move based on the images you pin.
FourSquare or other Location websites
Don’t use these if you want to protect your identity. You don’t need to be the mayor of your supermarket. Every time you check in, you are letting every person in the world know exactly where you are and where you are not (at home). If someone wanted to break in to your home or office, they’ll know how long you are going to be away based on your updates.
Burglars know that when people pop into their local coffee shop for a quick cup of coffee, they don’t usually arm their alarm systems. Keep your location private and be careful of what information you give out when you tweet, update your status or use social media. It’s the only way to truly protect your identity.