In the aftermath of last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, we have learned that there is absolutely nothing we can do to keep our behavior on Facebook hidden from advertisers. Nothing, except to stop using social media altogether. The question is: “Has it really come to that?”
We dare say no, but only if you take necessary measures.
By combining basic cybersecurity with social media privacy routines, you should be able to keep most of your online information hidden from prying eyes. Unfortunately, that still won’t stop advertisers from using your comments, likes, and searches to show you targeted ads.
But it should eliminate the following social media threats:
- Cyberstalking, which exposes your profile to the people you don’t know.
- Social profiling, which allows people to measure you based on your profile.
- Tracking, which sets cookies to your device to track your off-site behavior.
- Third-party data sharing, which allows social media sites to sell your data.
- Warrantless searches, which allows the officials to monitor your behavior.
Here’s how to keep your social media accounts private.
Practice Basic Cybersecurity Measures
If you’re anything like the majority of 3.48 billion social media users, then you’re spending most of your time online on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Cybercriminals may not be able to use these channels to steal your money, but they can still access and misuse your data.
It’s time to start practicing basic cybersecurity measures:
- Use Strong and Unique Passwords
A strong and unique password is longer than ten characters and includes a random combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Have a separate one for every online account and never keep them written down. If you can’t memorize them, use a password manager app.
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is a useful way to add an additional layer of security to your devices and sensitive accounts. In addition to a password, two-factor authentication will ask for your fingerprint, your facial scan, or something as simple as a code sent to your smartphone.
- Watch Out for Phishing Schemes
Have you ever received an email from your distant uncle’s childless widow who’s eager to give you millions of dollars? This is a classic phishing scheme that aims to lure you into a dummy site, trick you into sending money or leaving your password, and then rob you blind.
- Keep Your Software Up-to-Date
All Internet-enabled devices are prone to vulnerabilities. The only way to protect yours from falling victim to cybercrime is by keeping their software systems up-to-date. Updates are basically security patches that reinforce your devices with the latest defense mechanisms.
- Have a Virtual Private Network
You should never access the internet over a public Wi-Fi network. In fact, you should avoid using all shared Wi-Fis if you don’t know for sure that they are encrypted. VPNs always are, which is why they are the best alternative. Avoid using a free VPN – they store and sell your data. Get a VPN free trial to try premium services instead.
Stop to Think When Using Social Media
Even though you generally shouldn’t trust social media too much, there are still some things you can do to take better control of your public and private data. Most of them fall down to common sense, while others suggest frequent visits to your social media’s privacy settings.
Here’s what you should pay attention to:
- Set and Adjust Privacy Settings
Every social network can be adjusted in a way that protects your privacy. You can control who sees your profile and public posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you care for your cybersecurity, you should switch all your social media accounts from public to private.
- Revoke Access to Third-Party Apps
You’ve certainly used your Facebook credentials to access a few other websites quickly. If you haven’t visited these websites since then, make sure to delete them from Facebook’s third-party list. Otherwise, Facebook is allowed to share all your public and private data with them.
- Use Geotags Only When You Must
There’s no need for everyone to know where you’re posting from. It’s tempting to let people know that you are on a fancy summer vacation half a world away, but that’s informing the burglars that you’re not home. Keep geotags turned off and use them only when you must.
- Don’t Reveal Too Much About Yourself
Did you know that other Twitter users can find you by your email address and phone number? Unless you’re using social media to promote a brand, you should keep your About Me sections very brief. Don’t disclose your email, phone number, and address unless you have to.
- Proofread Your Posts and Tweets
Always think twice before you click “Post.” Do people really need to know about where you are, how you’re feeling, or what you’re doing? Either keep posting down to the minimum or be careful about what you’re sharing with the people you don’t actually know in person.
Nobody can deny the revolutionary impact of social media.
For every bad thing, popular social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have another good one. They are a fun and convenient way to stay in touch with your friends and family. As long as you’re practicing basic cybersecurity, using social media is pretty safe.