Social Media Security Center
Staying Safe on Social Media
How to Adjust Your Privacy Settings
Use these shortcuts to our privacy and security setting pages for these popular social media applications, and keep your social identity protected.
Protecting Yourself on Social Media
Social platforms allow users to connect with others quickly and easily, but do you really know who has access to the information you share socially?
Social media is now the most common Internet activity with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn being some of the most popular sites. This resource will teach you how different platforms use your information, how to change privacy settings, and offer solutions to common privacy concerns.
What Information is Commonly Stored?
Most of this data is stored to allow sites to enhance the user and advertiser experience by tailoring content, providing advertisers with demographics, and managing the site’s content.
- Phone number
- Political/Religious views
- Friend list
- Likes and Interests
- Payment information (account number kept with users’ consent)
- Employment history
- Relationship status
- IP address
- Site activity: clicks, search queries, page duration, etc.
Common ONLINE Security Concerns
Phishing scams, hacking, apps, geotagging, Catfishing, link shorteners, and weak passwords are some of the biggest threats to your online security. Proactive measures can be taken to combat cybercriminals in each of these areas.
Cybercriminals commonly use social media for phishing scams by creating fake news stories or advertising get-rich-quick schemes. Be wary of link shorteners that criminals may use to send you to sites that contain malware or may prompt you for your personal information. Never click on or share links from unfamiliar sources, delete known scam posts and do not fill out requested surveys or personal information when visiting an unfamiliar source in order to see the full content.
Social media outlets are vulnerable to individual or mass account hacking. Never share your login information with anyone and be cautious of sites asking for your login credentials.
Apps and Privacy
Location data is retrieved through geotagging, so users can view where you are posting. To remain private, do not provide social media outlets with any geographic information and do not provide “current location” if prompted to do so.
Spear Phishing (Email Scams)
Spear phishing is when a cybercriminal poses as a social media outlet and emails you to take action in order to resolve an alleged problem. Do not provide them with your information and never click on links in these emails. Social media sites have taken proactive measures to combat spear phishing. Facebook will never ask for your password via email and Twitter does not send emails to its users, except to verify new accounts.
Catfishing is when a user pretends to be someone else by stealing their photos and creating a fake account. Catfishing is commonly associated with romantic scams and has gained attention in recent years. Overall, don’t provide personal or financial information to anyone that you have not met in person.
Link shorteners are frequently used to meet character limitations and make links aesthetically pleasing. Scammers also use them to mask the site they are actually redirecting users to. Scam sites may infect your computer with malware or prompt you for your personal information. Evaluate the original URL behind shortened links with a tool such as CheckShortURL before clicking.
There are a number of new ways to talk — however and with whomever you’d like. Popular chat alternatives include mobile apps like Kik, Yik Yak, and WhatsApp. These apps typically use Wi-Fi to send messages, pictures, and videos — allowing them to be shared in a rather discrete manner.
With the low-key nature of these apps, they may seem like a privacy-smart alternative, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. These apps can cause users some pretty serious problems.
Children on Social Media
Social media is, unfortunately, a common environment to encounter child predators, bullying, and the over-sharing of personal information. Extortion, phishing, malware, and catfishing are some of the biggest threats facing social media users. Young users are the most prone to these threats. They see these apps as harmless new ways to interact and don’t understand the importance of keeping online conversations secure.
The instant messaging app Kik has come under fire for inadvertently providing sexual predators an ideal medium for engaging with underage users. The anonymous message board app Yik Yak has been scrutinized for the prevalence of cyberbullying on their platform.
Many young people are oblivious to these dangers and attempt to hide these apps from their parents. They will password-protect them or store them deep within a concealed folder of their phone. Because messages are sent over Wi-Fi they will not show up on their phone bill, making interactions harder to monitor.
Make sure you talk with your children about cybersecurity threats, such as malware and phishing scams, and frequently discuss the dangers of talking to strangers online.
Online Dating Privacy Concerns
Online dating has become big business, especially for fraudsters. These criminals create fake accounts and manipulate users into disclosing their personal information. Never disclose your personal email, home address, place and date of birth, or financial information to anyone you’ve met online.
Many online dating websites have relaxed Internet security, despite having massive amounts of personal and, sometimes, financial information. In 2021, the dating platform MeetMindful was hacked and 2.28 million users had account details and personal information posted for free to other cyber thieves in a hacker forum. The leaked details included names, email addresses, location details, dating preferences, marital status, birth dates, IP addresses, Bcrypt-hashed account passwords, Facebook user IDs, and Facebook authentication tokens. With the impact of these various attacks, it is important to always create a unique password for each site.
guides to Adjust Your Privacy Settings on popular social media sites
Visit our privacy and security setting pages for these popular social media applications, and keep your social identity protected.