A quick internet search reveals most of the discussions about internet safety revolve around children and teens. But as one mommy blogger recently found out, adults are just as susceptible to scary situations online. With social media as an integral part of our lives, and with a mandate to share goodness, here are ten easy ways to keep you and your family safe online.
For most people, setting all of your social media sites to private is the easiest and most effective way to keep yourself safe. While there seems to be an attitude that the sites don’t care about your privacy, most have extensive privacy settings that are completely customizable. The problem comes when most people choose to bypass the chance to change the settings manually.
Note: Some features are automatically public. For example, be especially careful about your profile pictures. Most social media sites require the profile pictures to be public.
If you are a blogger or run a business, consider creating separate social media accounts, one for your public life and a private account for more personal pictures, videos, and stories. This is especially useful for Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. With Facebook, consider creating a public page that you can run from your personal account.
Having separate accounts gives you greater control when choosing what you want the public to know and what should be kept between family and friends.
Keep Things Unlinked
One of the most common options on smartphone apps and most internet sites is to subscribe or sign-up using your Facebook account. This is convenient, but it also gives multiple parties access to your personal information on Facebook. If you are especially serious or worried about internet privacy, create a separate account for everything you sign-up for. By doing so, the only information you’re willingly giving to the site or app is your e-mail address and name.
A good balance is to keep your Facebook and Instagram linked (the two most popular sites for sharing photos for adults), but create new accounts for all other sites.
Research Your Followers
Generally, it is ideal to approve every friend or follower to your social media accounts. If you have the time, doing a quick internet search for anyone you do not know before you accept their request can quickly help you determine if they are using a fake account or not.
There are also options available to make your name unsearchable on social media sites, stopping those you don’t know from finding you.
Routinely Purge Your Followers
It is a good idea to routinely go through your followers and make sure everyone on the list is someone you want there. Removing people who you never interact with or who may be making you feel uncomfortable is within your right at any time. Social media etiquette is ever evolving and we often feel like we are being mean if we unfriend someone or block their access.
Change Location Tagging
Have you heard of a geotag? If not, a geotag is a little electronic tag placed on a photo or video uploaded to the internet. While it may be fun to tag that you were in a beautiful city for vacation or post a photo of a delicious meal at your favorite restaurant, location tags are easily used against you. Take the social media app Creepy for example. Creepy can track someone’s every move based on their geotag locations by creating a list of all the locations you have posted from. While Creepy is no longer widely available, someone with malintent can easily find ways to replicate the process.
To be safe, turn off the location tag in your privacy setting, avoid using anything that asks for your location, such as the “Friend Finder” in Facebook messaging, and don’t tag where you’re at in photos and videos.
Turn Off Right Clicking
This is mostly for bloggers. Research your hosting site and find how to disable “right-clicking.” Right-clicking is what most people use to save photos to their computer from a website. Not only will it protect your photos, but it was also deter people from saving photos of your children and family.
Create Friends Lists
One of Facebook’s underutilized features is the customizable friend lists. You can add whoever you want to any number of lists. Then, when you post something to Facebook, you can pick to share posts with only the people on a specific list. You can even set your privacy settings to automatically post to the people in a list for every post until you say otherwise.
This is useful for more private photos, sensitive or personal information, or information specifically about your home or location.
Use Unique Hashtags
Hashtags are a great way to gather photos or posts about a subject in one place. Just remember that using hashtags, such as a #becausehelives, gives your post a larger reach. When posting about your children, create a unique and specific hashtag that would be unsearchable. For example, a play on your child’s name can still be cute, but almost impossible to find, unlike #cutebaby or just their given name.
Limit Personal Information
The first rule of the internet is to be careful about what you post online. Avoid posting full addresses, phone numbers, or personal e-mail addresses unless absolutely necessary. Never give your information out to strangers or even acquaintances. Avoid posting pictures with personal information, such as street names, license plate numbers, or school names.
Most importantly, follow the Spirit and remember that what may be right for you may not be right for someone else. But we want to know: what are some effective ways you’ve found to keep yourself safe online? Share your tips and experiences below.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.