Protect Your Privacy on Social Media

Being able to share things on social media keeps millions of people connected around the world every day – but unfortunately there are people willing to take advantage of that fact. While many people have vague social media privacy concerns, few truly understand the extent to which social media can be a gateway for scammers looking to use your personal information against you.

Instead of turning away from socials altogether, we’re advising the best ways to keep both your social media and privacy intact. It is possible to be active online without exposing yourself to threats – the answer is arming yourself with knowledge and the right security measures.

Privacy Threats on Social Media

It’s likely that you’re already familiar with some of the most common social media privacy threats and might have even experienced some of them yourself.

  • Hacking – by gaining access to a social media account through hacking, cyber criminals can carry out a range of fraudulent activity. Not only can they use your personal information for identity theft, but they can also use the fact that your friends, family, and followers are likely to trust your account to their advantage. By posing as you, they can spready viruses or malware, or convince your contacts to divulge personal information.
  • Data mining – cyber criminals don’t even have to hack your account to gather information about you – a lot can be deduced from the information people willingly share through bios, posts and status updates. And it’s not only criminals who will use this information to their advantage – social media platforms themselves will often sell or share your data with third parties, enabling them to use targeted ads based on your likes and dislikes.
  • Location tracking – many apps and websites have the ability to track your location, especially if your most frequent way of browsing is through your smartphone. As well as enabling invasive ad tracking, this information can leave you vulnerable to thieves and stalkers

Strengthening Account Security

If you’re wondering how to protect your privacy on social media, there are a few easy steps you can start with.

Be Smart With Your Passwords

Choose complex, unique passwords that are made up of a combination of letters, numbers, and special symbols. Change your password regularly, and don’t share it with anyone else. Try to avoid a password based around obvious personal information that is easily found elsewhere e.g. your pet’s name, your address, or your date of birth. Using a password manager like ByePass is a great way to keep your passwords secure, especially if you’re worried about remembering them.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Many social platforms and websites make use of two-factor authentication (2FA). This is where you must provide two (or more) pieces of information in order to gain access to an account, e.g. logging in with your email and password, but also providing a code that is sent to you via text. While 2FA measures can mean it takes longer to log in to your socials, it makes them far more secure.

Review Your Account Activity

It may seem like common sense, but regularly reviewing your account can help you spot any suspicious activity. If you notice any transactions, comments, likes, or changes to your account settings that you don’t remember making yourself, it could be a sign of a hacker.

Think Before You Post

If your account is publicly viewable, you might want to think twice before sharing certain information online. For example, posting about heading off on a long vacation could signal to real-life criminals that your home is about to be empty for an extended period. Similarly, be mindful about what might be visible in the background of your photos – e.g. your credit card, left on the coffee table for the world to zoom in on.

Adjusting Privacy Settings

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the various privacy settings on your smartphone, any apps you use, and any online accounts you have. You should be able to control who sees your activity and posts, whether your activity is logged and saved anywhere, how your data is used, and how you’re advertised to.

Your social media privacy settings might include preventing people from sharing your posts and photos elsewhere – this is useful, because even something shared with good intentions by someone you know can end up in the wrong hands. Additionally, it’s always good to review your friends or followers list on a regular basis – someone else may have had their account noticeably hacked, and now pose a threat to you.

Limiting Data Sharing

Data sharing can have its benefits, including providing you with tailored content and personalized online experiences, but when it comes to social media privacy it’s up to you if the benefits outweigh the risks. Consider the following:

  • Is the person or company I’m sharing my data with legitimate? If it’s an individual, how well do I know them, and can I trust them with this information? If it’s a company or platform, how reputable are they? Have they had any data breaches recently?
  • Will my experience be greatly impacted if I choose not to share this data or refuse to accept cookies?
  • Why is this person or company asking for my data in the first place? Do I know exactly what they intend to do with it?

Promoting Privacy Awareness

Keeping up to date with social media privacy developments can help you to stay on top of the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape. You may even be able to spread awareness to others, such as helping elderly relatives to protect themselves online. Between 2021 and 2023, 75% of adults aged 50-80 experienced some form of scam attempt online – and those are just the ones that were caught. Cybercrime can ruin people’s lives, so taking precautions and encouraging others to do the same should be a concern for everyone.

Protecting Your Privacy With iolo

If you’re concerned about your privacy online and how your data might be used against you, iolo has products that can help.

Our Privacy Guardian can help you to regularly delete your cookies and browsing history and prevent any unwanted data collection.

Browsing the internet with the iolo VPN in place keeps your experience ad-free and prevents your browser from logging your online activity.

We want to make sure that everyone can enjoy a safer and more secure online experience, from learning how to protect your privacy on social media to how to recognise phishing . See what security tips you can gain from our resources today.

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