You might not think about this often, but broadcasting on the Internet includes some risk—How safe are you when you use social networks like Twitter? How much personal information about you is available online? Could posting on Twitter make you more likely to become one of the millions of Americans hurt by identity theft? When you post links and updates on Twitter, what else are you exposing?
To help answer these questions, let’s take a look at how to protect yourself on social media, specifically on Twitter. Follow these tips to guard against breeches of privacy and other types of fraud:
Think Like an Identity Thief…
According to the financial research and strategic consulting firm Javelin Strategy, 12 million Americans became victims of identity theft last year—That’s why it’s so important to protect yourself online. When it comes to social networks, the more personal information you share, the easier it is for your identity to be compromised.
When you share personal details like email address, phone number, home address, etc. with strangers, you essentially provide an easy target for a criminal. You make it simple for someone to take your bits of information from here and there online and piece together a profile of you they can use.
For this reason, it’s wise to post only information that you’re comfortable sharing with the world—It might be okay for strangers to know your city, for example, but not your home address.
Watch Your Geo-Tagging…
Sharing geo-tagged updates from Foursquare, Instagram, and Facebook may be fun, but it also lets the world know exactly where you are. If you’re concerned about security but still want to tag specific locations and businesses, post the updates after you leave a place instead of while you’re there. Or you may want to post the photo or status in real-time but add the location tags later.
Consider Privacy Settings…
If you don’t want to be cautious about content you post, a simple fix is available: Make your account private. With a private account, you don’t have the same reach that you do with a public account, but you have total control over whom you allow to view your updates.
Don’t Download Files…
This might sound like common sense, but it’s still important enough to mention: Don’t download files from online users you don’t trust. Files may contain viruses or malware that corrupts your computer or steals your information. Download files only from sources you trust.
Pick Private Passwords…
Here are a few tips for powerful passwords: Don’t use the same one on every social network. Don’t make it something easy to guess. But do regularly change your password to make yourself less vulnerable to online attack.
Think Before You Tweet…
As the sixth and final tip, let’s reiterate the first one: Don’t share everything online. Ask yourself if what you’re Tweeting is okay for everyone to know; if not, don’t post it. While it’s probably fine to share that you’re eating egg salad for lunch, it’s probably unwise to share what street you live on or your home phone number.
What Do You Think?
Is protecting your privacy on Twitter something you already think about? Could some of the information you’ve been sharing be used against you? Why not take steps to protect your information?
By following the six tips above, even with occasional exceptions, you’ll be well on your way.
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