Although it’s only been an integral part of daily life for about 10 years, many of us have trouble conceiving of a time before social media. In the span of a decade, popular social media outlets have permanently altered the way people interact online and have had a profound effect on human interaction as a whole. For most of us, going a day without checking and/or updating our favorite social media account is unthinkable. Unsurprisingly, cybercriminals were quick to pick up on social media’s popularity and have consistently used it as a vehicle to further their many schemes. If a secure social media experience is what you seek, the following tips are sure to come in handy.
1. Be Cautious About What You Share
Once something has been posted, there will always be a record of it – regardless of whether or not the post is deleted. That being the case, every safety-conscious social media user should be very cautious about the information he or she chooses to share. This is particularly important for people whose accounts can be viewed publically. Cybercriminals are always on the hunt for sensitive personal information, and since so many people will share such info on social media, crooks have no shortage of targets from which to choose. Sharing your address, date of birth or place of employment on a public account can have far-reaching consequences, which include account hacking and identity theft. If you insist on sharing personal information, set your account to private, as this will prohibit people who aren’t friends or followers from viewing your posts.
2. Be Selective About Who You Follow/Friend
In addition to enabling users to stay in touch with old friends, social media provides them with a convenient platform for connecting with new people. While it’s true that lasting friendships and romantic relationships have been formed by people who met on social media, this doesn’t mean that you should implicitly trust every new person who follows your account or sends you a friend request. Before accepting a friend request or the following someone back, have a look at their account page. If this person doesn’t strike you as trustworthy or someone you’d enjoy following, there’s no shame in denying their request. You don’t owe anyone your friendship, especially someone you’ve never met.
3. Never Trust a Link
Cybercriminals love sharing malicious links in their social media posts. Upon clicking these links, users are directed to sites that are loaded with malware. Additionally, if you have a site of your own to protect, SiteLock reviews can bring you up to speed on the latest security solutions. Since these posts are designed to look genuine, it can sometimes be difficult to discern a malicious link from a harmless one. As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid clicking links that have been shortened. Many of these links purport to lead to legitimate sites, but the full address names often tell a different story. Whenever you’re unsure about a certain link, hovering over it will show you its entire address name.
4. Be Honest When You’re Uncomfortable
If you take issue with being mentioned or pictured in another user’s post, don’t be afraid to tell this person how you feel. For example, someone with a private account may not be comfortable with a friend sharing a picture of him or her on a public account. Furthermore, if a friend’s public post reveals information about yourself that you’d prefer to be kept private, you have every right to voice your opposition. If another user proves unreceptive to the idea of deleting a post in which you are pictured or mentioned, reaching out to the site’s support team is your best course of action.
Before social media made a splash, a mostly online interaction was limited to forums and chat rooms. While these outlets still serve a number of purposes, social media platforms have made it possible to effortlessly remain in touch with countless friends, family members, and professional colleagues. Of course, social media isn’t without its less-than-ideal qualities. Since popular platforms offer cybercriminals abundant opportunities to carry out their misdeeds, an assortment of unsavory characters has made permanent homes on certain social media outlets. To prevent yourself from becoming their next victim, remember to put the measures discussed above to good use.