Social networking tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are a great way to share information and keep in touch. Unfortunately, like other emerging technologies, social networking sites have become easy targets for Internet criminals. Social network users often forget that the information they post, regardless of privacy settings, is available to anyone who searches the Internet. The safest course of action is to assume that you have no privacy on social networks. Please beware that information you post can be used to steal your identity, and may be used to target you or your loved ones in other dangerous ways. Internet technologies have become a mainstream part of our society. As such, we need to know how to use the Internet safely.
Keep these tips in mind when using social networking sites:
- Carefully guard your private information. Don’t post your full name, phone number, address, or other specific identifying information that could be used to steal your identity or stalk you;
- Do not provide your password or other PII through email;
- Use maximum security privacy settings. Although your account can be compromised by experienced Internet criminals, you should still select the strongest privacy settings possible;
- Don’t allow public access to your information on social networking site. Restrict access to your known group of friends, but understand that privacy settings can be easily compromised;
- Think before posting photos or making comments. Employers are searching social networks for information about employees and potential employees. Even though you may delete a picture or post, you have no control over copies that were cached or stored by others. A good question to ask yourself before posting is “Is this something that someone I respect would find questionable or against their core values?”;
- Check comments regularly and delete those that are offensive;
- As with all your passwords, change them frequently, and do not share them with others;
- If you are on Facebook or any other social networking site on a public computer, always be sure to log off. Staying logged on after you leave the computer will allow the next person who uses the machine access to your account and personal information; and
- Search yourself online. By routinely conducting searches on your own name, you can see what is posted about yourself and you can take action if you see damaging information about yourself.