It’s no secret that social media platforms are booming, from Twitter to Facebook. New ones are constantly surfacing too. And let’s not forget FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out, which keeps many people coming back to those platforms to find out the latest happenings with friends and even strangers. But, there’s that word. Strangers. As is painfully obvious in our world, not every person is trustworthy. And there are fake profiles online. The question then is, how can women protect themselves on social media?
Privacy on Social Media: Is it an Illusion?
Issues with privacy crop up countless times with Facebook, to name just one social media network. Forbes pointed this matter out in 2016 when they cited how location tracking was being used there. While recently Facebook privacy updates have been made – and we see similar advancements on other social media platforms – it’s still important that you stay aware that these “free” networks do have a cost. The collection of information about you, such as your shopping habits, still happens. And that latest photo you posted – well it just might get seen by someone who doesn’t have your best interests in mind.
Be Cautious about Online Sharing
Do you overshare online and not realize it? These are a few good security guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to what you share on social media:
- Before you post it, ask yourself: “Would I say this in public?” If the answer is no, then think twice about sharing it. Once the content is online, another person can capture it. Even if you delete an image, it may already be seized by someone.
- Be careful about accidentally sharing your location without meaning to; some platforms include location sharing by default. If you don’t want to share specific details about your current location, then you’ll want to remove this line from the post manually or go into the settings area to change the option.
- If your friends or family tag you in a post, be careful about whether you allow the post on your profile. If it is a potentially offensive image or makes you look unprofessional, you may want to remove it from your profile. There have been cases of clients bowing out of business deals after inappropriate content on social media.
- Search for yourself on social media networks. You may be surprised by what you see. Delete anything you deem unsuitable, for whatever reason, if you can.
- Avoid posting your email address and phone number online. Don’t overshare! If you worry that your child may be unsafe online, consider using an Android monitoring app.
- If you must put your birth date on a post, resist adding the year. This extra detail can set you up to be the next victim of identity theft.
On Password Security
Don’t make it easy for a hacker to get into your online account. Create a strong password; the longer, the better. Also, use a different password for each account. I know, I know, it’s easier to remember just one. But if that single password gets hacked, well, that unscrupulous person now has access to several of your accounts. Lastly, set up two-factor authentication for your account; this feature is available for many online platforms.
How Else Can Women Protect Themselves on Social Media?
It is always a good idea to look at the privacy policies page(s) for Facebook, Twitter, and other networks you frequent. Select the settings you want for your profile rather than assuming that the default ones are best for you.
Another tip to help women protect themselves on social media? Don’t connect with people you don’t know if it is a platform where you share personal information; for example, don’t Friend someone you don’t know on Facebook if you have family pictures or your work address on your profile. While it might feel great to have hundreds of Friends, the reality is that if you don’t know someone, then you’re wise to be cautious about showing them personal details about yourself. After all, you wouldn’t do that IRL (in real life), would you?
Finally, trust your gut. If you’re a woman feeling uncomfortable or unsafe, then follow your instincts and block, mute, or unfriend that stranger. If you are the victim of online harassment, report the offending party to the social media network.
Staying Secure Online
I don’t mean to paint a bleak picture here about social media, ladies. Only I want you to be safe on social media! These networks are a lot of fun, and you can have peace of mind when using them if you put at least some of these safeguards into place.
How else can women protect themselves on social media?