Facebook, Instagram & Twitter are three of the most widely used social media platforms. While each of them operates in a different format, they basically offer you the opportunity to connect with each other and stay aware of what’s happening around the world and your community.

However, social media isn’t being used how it was supposed to be. We often overshare our personal information which results in the misuse of that information against us. Also, the social media giants–especially Facebook–has known to be accumulating the data from its users to show them personalized ads. This is a direct shot at our privacy.

In today’s discussion, we are going to discuss 7 tips that can help you reinforce your privacy and take the control back into your hands. 

Cyber-Dangers on Social Media:

Discussed below are some of the drawbacks and hits to your privacy when using social media.

Cyberstalking:

As the name suggests, cyberstalking is just like traditional stalking, except it is digital and affects both men & women. 

The irony is that cyberstalking is often not known to be a crime or a hit to someone’s privacy. Colleagues, ex-partners, and even your boss may be cyberstalking you and you will never know about it unless you have set up some kind of analytics tool. 

On social media, it is now easier than ever for anyone to cyberstalk you. Hundreds of thousands of strangers may be following you online, saving you pictures, copying your available data, and may at a later point misuse this information to defame you. 

Social Profiling:

Long gone are the days when a certificate of character would suffice to play an important role in considering you for a job role. Nowadays, employers use social profiling to run a background check on a candidate.

Social profiling is when someone checks your social media profiles to–kind of–judge your social capabilities. While it is not and should not be a dimension to evaluate your capabilities, it is still a prevalent trend these days.

3rd-party information sharing:

This is another quite scary part of using social media. 

As discussed previously, social media giants like Facebook keep on tracking your behavior on their website so they can build a profile on you. This data (demographics) are then shared with third-party vendors such as advertising agencies, companies, and even individuals looking to run ad campaigns on Facebook.

Almost every social media platform collects data in one way or another.

Warrantless Searches:

Warrantless searches came into light (online) when Edward Snowden unveiled them. Warrantless searches are basically the acquisition of online data without the consent of the owner. This means that any security agency can acquire data on a suspect or group of suspects if they find something fishy.

This means that your data is always vulnerable. You can’t defend it as sharing information online is thought of as an open act rather than private.

7 Top-Notch Tips To Protect Your Social Media Privacy

By discussing the above-mentioned cyber-dangers, we have just touched the tip of the iceberg. There are a hundred more potential threats that arise when using social media. So, to make sure that you aren’t vulnerable to social media, here are some tips.

Always rely on strong passwords

Read it again. Now once more.

Most of us know this for a fact that a weak password means weakest security and vulnerability to cyberattacks. However, we still don’t like to type long passwords with a combination of upper case, lower case, numerals, and characters. 

How do I know?

In a study, it was revealed that in 2019 alone, one of the most used passwords was “12345678”

Imagine how obliged the hacker would feel when he/she found the password to be this easy. They might even thank you for it.

So first things first. Never opt for an easy password no matter how secure you feel. Always select a difficult password and use an app or notebook to keep your passwords in one place.

Use 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication)

By enabling two-factor authentication, you can save yourself from some big troubles.

Two-factor authentication is when you need an additional device to sign in to your account. This means that anyone trying to hack into your account will not only need your login credentials but also your handheld device to get the code and login.

Identifying Phishing Scams

You may have received an email from a Nigerian Prince claiming that he is in trouble acquiring his inherited property and with your help, he can get it back and share a major portion with you. All you need to do is send him some money…

Mails like this have become a norm. While a majority of us think that we can identify a phishing email when we see it–the truth isn’t as clear. Hackers and online con-artists have become really sophisticated at their job. They craft these emails to look as much legitimate as possible. 

Controlling Extras

If you had wanted to make it big on Facebook, Instagram, and/or twitter, you must have used 3rd party apps such as photo editing, collage makers, hashtags, scheduled posts, etc. While extras do seem to add value, they can also ruin your privacy to great extent.

So, it is only prudent that you take control back from them. These apps will have access to not only your social media profiles but also your gallery, camera, and many others. Make sure to change the permissions. 

Geotags 101

Many of us like to share our vacations, gym, cafe routines online. While this sounds great when you want to share your moments with the loved ones, leaving these geotags can turn out to be more damaging than we can think.

Anyone looking to stalk you physically, or for a burglary opportunity can easily read these patterns made due to our geotags and can attack you based on where you will be at a routine time.

How to change the privacy for your social media accounts?

Facebook:

Facebook doesn’t offer a direct private mode. But it does have selective features using which you can modify your privacy settings and control some of it. Also, Facebook has a dark web version as well if you are into using the Tor browser.

Most of the danger to you come from strangers on Facebook. You never know the intentions of someone looking at your posts or profile. Therefore, it is only prudent to hide your posts from everyone out of your circle. To enable this, you can go to, Menu–Settings–Privacy and select the options that seem best.

Let’s say you don’t want your profile to be indexed by search engines. (Being indexed means that anyone searching your name on Google, Bing, and Yahoo) will be able to find your profile. By turning it off, you can be sure that no one is able to search you using a search engine.

What if I tell you that I can follow your posts without even befriending you? You would be shocked right? But yes that’s possible. Facebook allows some random people to follow your posts even if you don’t know them at all. To counter this, make sure you turn it off by going to “Public Posts”

Twitter:

While Twitter sure is safer compared to Facebook in the sense that it offers you much fewer characters to share and is overall more privacy-focused than Facebook, there are still loopholes using which you can be tracked. Here’s how to deal with them.

Firstly, you can change your profile from public to private. What it’ll do is to hide your account from the prying eyes of strangers. Unless they are approved by you as your follower, they won’t be able to see your tweets.

To enable it, you need to go to the “Privacy & Settings” and then to “Privacy & Safety”

Here’s what you need to do in a nutshell (I’m just suggesting what I think best for privacy. You can do what suits you best)

  • Uncheck the box where it asks you to tweet with geotags on.
  • Check the box where it asks you to make your tweets private.
  • You can also amend the settings for Photo Tagging and Discoverability. This will help you protect your account from being discovered by strangers.

Instagram:

Instagram (owned by Facebook) is another platform where a majority of users’ privacy can be compromised. Also, Instagram is the haven for cyberstalkers. 

To cater to your privacy needs on Instagram, you will need to go to the “Privacy & Settings” and then tap on “Accounts Privacy” and then tap on “Private Account”

Unless you’re planning on running a business or brand on Instagram, it is prudent to make your account private so that only your approved followers would be able to see your content. Also, please make sure that you are not sharing pictures of your family or loved ones as they can be used negatively without you or them knowing about it.

Using a VPN:

By using a VPN, you can ensure protection when connecting to a hotspot or public WiFi anywhere. Normally, when you connect to an open WiFi without a VPN, all the data you browse online or within an app can be stolen or hacked by using a Man-in-middle attack.

But when you use a VPN, your data is encrypted and your IP address is masked so no hacker or cyber criminals looking to snoop in on your data is able to locate you or trace anything back to you.