In 2022, our society has changed in many ways one of which is how we communicate and how we receive information. Where we used to read a newspaper or watch the news on TV and catch up with friends in person, now many of us use social media for all of these things and more. According to Global WebIndex, as of January 2022, over 58% of the world uses social media daily with the average daily use being roughly 2 and a half hours. With social media now having such a prevalent presence in our lives, it is important for us to figure out how to safely navigate this online world. Below, we’ll take a look at some security tips to help make this process easier and safer.
Delete unused accounts — Social media, like life, has many different phases and stages — we grow into some things and we outgrow others. Similarly, the same social media networks we use today may be different than the networks we used 5 or 10 years ago and are likely different still to those that we’ll use in the future. Some of the sites we used to use have carried on with us, but there are likely many that we no longer use, but still have accounts for (Tom from MySpace says hi!). Dormant (active but unused) social media accounts are a big vulnerability to you and your cybersecurity, as a site you do not use but have an account for has information about you, information that could likely be exposed in the event of a data breach. To avoid your data being stolen in a breach, go through your mental rolodex of social media accounts and delete any accounts that you haven’t used in a while.
Manage your privacy settings — Every social media site has different privacy settings that you are able to update to match your preferences. Sites like Twitter and Instagram give you the option to have private or public accounts, in which if you have a private account, only folks who follow you are able to see your account. Other sites will offer you some sort of option to have as much or as little security as you are comfortable with. You can also manage settings for each post that you share which will allow/not allow your friends to share you updates with their friends. Be sure to take the time to seek out the privacy settings for all social sites that you use. Check in on the social sites you have been using for a while and make sure that your privacy settings look how you want them to as well.
Review your friends/followers — Making your profile private is a good step at lessening the scope of who will see your content on social media, however, when you do your check of your privacy settings for a given social network, also be sure to review your friends and followers. When reviewing this list, there’ll be few things you want to keep an eye out for. Firstly, remove any accounts that you do not recognize or appear to be false accounts or “bots.” Secondly, go through and see if there are any accounts who you are friends with who appear to have been inactive for a while – these dormant accounts are more easily hackable and thus more likely to pose a threat to you. Thirdly, you can clean up your friends and followers even further by going through and deleting folks who you no longer talk to and have no desire to continue keeping in contact with – it can seem harsh, but if they are folks who you do not want to share your personal updates with, then it may be right for you to remove them.
Use strong passwords — As with any of your accounts, be sure to use strong, unique passwords for each site. Unique is just as key here as a complex or strong password, because if you use the same complex password for multiple sites and one of the companies encounters a breach, the malicious actors now have a password to the other sites as well. Additionally, be sure to take advantage of multi-factor authentication whenever possible – this is when you get the option to have a code sent to an associated account (phone number or email address) or when you use your front-facing camera to scan your face for the face ID. The more ways you have to login to your account, the harder it will be for a malicious actor to gain access to your account.
Be cautious with your posts — Do not post anything online that you would not want the world to know. Though you may have privacy settings set for your posts, anyone who sees your updates could take a screenshot and share it themselves. It is best to treat every post like something you are shouting out to the world in a news conference – though the audience may likely be much smaller than that, it is best to treat each post as though everyone will see it than the other way around. The Internet is a public place so be sure to be cautious with your posts.