Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter are some of the biggest social network platforms today. According to Statista, the first one alone had 1.65 billion monthly active users worldwide during the first quarter of 2016.
These figures also carry an increased risk of hackers accessing social media accounts. These can lead to people spamming other accounts, private information leaks, or even identity theft. In the worst-case scenario, information stolen from your social media accounts—like your recent activity—can even lead you to getting fired from your job.
Whether you use Facebook or Instagram, your social media account’s privacy is the most important thing you need to safeguard.
There are several reasons to do so. For one, it helps you present a more professional image for the companies you apply for. After all, their HR staff can and will perform background checks on your reputation to determine whether or not they will hire you. The last thing they need to see is a hacked account that has incriminating posts.
Some other general ways to protect your accounts include making 8 to 15-character passwords that include numbers and letters or not saving your passwords on unsecured devices. But adjusting your privacy settings on specific sites is another matter.
Let’s take a look at more specific ways to keep your account secure on some of the major social networks:
Unless you’re a famous celebrity, one of the first things you need to do is to restrict your audience to the people you’re friends with. This limits your content to the people you trust and keeps it safe from prying eyes. These can be adjusted from the privacy settings or by clicking in the audience selector button to the left of the “Post” button.
You can even choose who will see your future posts. Simply go to your “Privacy” settings under “Account Settings,” then click “Who can see my future posts?” From here, you can then select “Public” if you are a public personality and have a huge following. Otherwise, simply pick “Friends” and keep your content limited to a select few.
You can even make custom lists to quickly select your audiences for each type of post.
This allows you to dictate who to share your content with. Family members can be sorted into a list called “Family,” other friends can be grouped according to the school you attended, your place of work, etc.
To sort your friends into lists, go to your profile and click on “Friends.” Next to the profile photo of your friends, there is a box with the word “Friends” and a checkmark next to it. Clicking on that box lets you add your friends into different lists. To create a new list, click on “Add to another list…” and select “+ New List.”
Once your lists are created, you can adjust who you want to share your content with from the Audience Selector.
Limiting and reviewing photo tags before these can be published in your timeline is another way to protect your privacy. This feature prevents you from getting tagged in embarrassing photos, videos, status messages, or links.
To activate this preference, go to the “Timeline and Tagging” within “Account Settings.” There will be a section labelled “Who can add things to my timeline?” Select the feature labelled “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline” to prevent potentially incriminating content.
Instagram is one of the biggest photo sharing networks around. As with Facebook, many of the settings are set to public viewing by default.
If you don’t want people profiling you or snooping around your activities, you can set your account to private. Simply tap the profile button in the bottom-left corner of the Instagram interface, then tap the Settings icon in the top corner of the screen.
This will bring up the “Private Account” setting. From there, flip the switch to the “on” position.
Doing so will prevent your photos from being accessible to the public, and keep them off public searches.
When sharing Instagram photos to your Facebook, you can even limit the audience by going to Facebook’s app settings. To do this, find the Instagram icon in the “Your Apps” list then check its privacy setting. From there, you can also select which groups of friends to share your content to.
Instagram also has a function that allows for location tagging to indicate where your photos were taken. Disabling it prevents you from giving away the locations where you’ve been on vacation, your home address, or even the location of your friends’ homes.
To disable it, switch off the “Add to your Photo Map” setting before you share your photos. If you want to remove the location tags, tap the profile button in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Then tap the Photo Map tab and click the Edit button in the top-right corner of your Photo Map.
You can also tap the grid button at the bottom of the screen for iOS users, or tap the three-dot menu button in the top corner of the screen and select “View All” for Android. This lets you “deselect” your Instagram photos from your map.
Similar to Facebook, Twitter also allows you to share short status updates, links and even pictures. The problem is that your profile can be followed by almost anyone. To prevent your information from being compromised, you can adjust your Privacy Settings. This page gives you the ability to approve a new follower, allowing them to view your tweets or block them. To protect your tweets, simply click the “Protect my Tweets” option. You can also leave the “Add a location to my Tweets” option unchecked to prevent your locations from being tracked.
LinkedIn is the most prominent network for professionals to connect. It also serves as a hiring portal for other companies to recruit potential employees. One important thing to remember is that every time you browse a LinkedIn member's profile, that person receives an alert with details about who's looking.
While you can decide which types of information to enter in your own profile, you have the option to change this setting especially if you don’t want sensitive information like your salary being leaked. Simply navigate to your Privacy & Settings page and click "Select what others see when you've viewed their profile," under the “Privacy Controls” subhead in the Profile tab.
In this page, you can also choose one of the following options: To have your name and headline displayed, to agree to anonymous profile characteristics such as industry and title, or choose to remain completely anonymous. When you've made your selection, click “Save changes.”
With these tips, you can significantly reduce the risk of your social media accounts getting hacked. Do you have other tips to safeguard your privacy online? Share it with us on our Facebook page!