Social media platforms are a great way to stay connected with friends and family, share updates about your life, and express yourself creatively. However, they also come with risks that all users should know. Oversharing personal information and letting your guard down online can leave you vulnerable to scams, identity theft, hacked accounts, and other cyber threats.
In this article, we'll explore some key dos and don'ts for staying safe on social media and protecting your data. Follow these tips, and you can enjoy the benefits of social platforms while minimizing the risks of social media scams.
Social Media Dos
Here are some things you should do to boost your safety when using social media accounts.
Use Strong Passwords and Protect Your Login Credentials
One of the simplest ways cybercriminals exploit social media is by using weak login details to hack into accounts. Creating strong and unique passwords is essential for protecting your social media accounts from unauthorized access.
A strong password should consist of a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easy-to-guess information like birthdates or common words. Besides that, also enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) when possible.
Regularly Update Your Privacy Settings
One of the most crucial steps in maintaining online safety is regularly updating your privacy settings on social media platforms. By customizing your privacy preferences, you can control who can see your posts and interact with you online. You can also limit the visibility of sensitive data like your address, birthday, phone number, and location data when possible. Doing this will help to further protect your identity.
Always Log Out From Public Devices
Using social media on public or shared devices can pose a risk to your online safety. Always remember to log out from your accounts when using public computers or devices, like those in libraries or internet cafes. Not doing so can allow unauthorized individuals to access your accounts and compromise your privacy.
Social Media Don'ts
Here are some things you should not do to boost your safety when using social media accounts.
Don't Use the Same Password Across Different Social Media Platforms and Accounts
Using the same password for multiple social media platforms or accounts is a significant security risk. If one account gets compromised, it could lead to other accounts being hacked as well. Instead, use unique passwords for all social media accounts. Consider using a password manager so you don't have to worry about remembering the different passwords.
Don't Accept Every Friend Request
Accepting friend requests from unknown individuals can expose you to potential risks, like phishing scams and identity theft.
A common social media scam involves cybercriminals sending friend requests posing as old friends, attractive strangers, or celebrities/public figures to take advantage of users' desire for more followers and connections. They do this to gain access to their target's profile and data.
Only add people you know and trust, and consider adjusting your privacy settings to limit the visibility of your personal information to a select group of individuals.
Don't Geotag Specific Locations in Posts and Photos
While it can be tempting to add your location to social media posts, this gives away data on your habits. Stalkers and burglars can use this intel to track your movements and know when you aren't at home.
Turn off location services on your phone before posting photos that have geographical metadata embedded in them. Also avoid mentioning specific places when possible. Instead, provide generic location descriptions that don't give away too much information. For example, instead of saying" at Circa Lagos, No. 2 Kola Adeyina Close," say "somewhere in Lagos" or "in Lekki." These are much safer and allow you to share what you want without giving away too many details to the wrong people.
Don't Accept Files or Links From Strangers
Cybercriminals leverage social media to spread malware, launch phishing attacks, and steal data. Be wary of opening unsolicited DMs, emails, files, or links from strangers online. These could allow hackers to infiltrate your device and accounts or steal personal information.
Social media platforms help us stay informed, entertained, and connected with our networks. However, you shouldn't overshare or let your guard down online to avoid falling victim to scams, hacking, and identity theft. By being selective about what you post, vigilant about security measures, and restrictive about who you engage with, you can stay safe while enjoying the benefits of social media platforms.
Here's a personal rule I follow: the internet may never forget, but it doesn't have to remember everything about you.