Approximately 70% of all people in the United States use social media, yet many don’t make the most of their time there. Following several significant data breaches and Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, some users continue to provide important, private information that others can use against them.
The following are five typical mistakes in safeguarding one’s privacy on social media, along with the potential consequences and recommendations for avoiding them.
Disseminating Private Data
Online, you can find any information that could be used to identify you personally (also known as personally identifiable information, or PII). Some examples of PII include:
- E-mail address.
- Driver’s license number
- Individual identification number
- Card or bank account information
- Passport number
According to Experian, the average American has uploaded 3.4 pieces of sensitive information online, often under the misguided idea that their poor credit or little money makes them less vulnerable to identity theft. This is entirely false because anyone can become a victim of these crimes. Indeed, the same survey found that more than half of those polled had either personally experienced identity theft or knew someone who had.
By combining publicly available information, such as a name or birthday, with PII, criminals can commit numerous types of identity theft, such as opening new credit lines, paying taxes, stealing government benefits, and taking control of their bank accounts. Furthermore, con artists may utilize the information gleaned from social media to launch social engineering attacks against you to learn even more about you. This explains why oversharing on social media can be dangerous.
Crooks value your personal information so much that they actively seek it online. As a result, you should think carefully before tweeting that terrible driver’s license photograph without first masking your personal information.
Not using a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is essential for data security reasons. Information transmitted through a virtual private network (VPN) is encrypted so it cannot be read in transit. This makes it more difficult for hackers and snoops to steal your information or monitor your internet activities.
Virtual private networks (VPNs) can also access blocked content and websites. Israel VPN allows you to access content that may be blocked in your current location.
You can attract the attention of social media users interested in a particular location by tagging your selfies with the area. It can, however, also be a risky practice.
One way to let many strangers know where you are at any given time is to share geotagged images in real time. As a result, you risk being encountered, interrupted, detained, or even worse. Similarly, publishing geotagged pictures of your daily activities online lets stalkers, data mining firms, and others follow your every step.
In addition, burglars who view geotagged photos of you away from home are aware that they have plenty of time to steal all the goods from your home without worrying about your imminent return. Social media is used by 80% of criminals to choose which home to loot.
Leaving your privacy settings unlocked.
Even though data privacy incidents are becoming more frequent, most Americans aren’t taking aggressive steps to protect their privacy. Only 44% of Americans regularly use the privacy settings in their online accounts and mobile apps to safeguard their data.
To lessen the likelihood of being an identity theft victim, you should, at the very least, conceal your phone number, birth date, email address, and location on your social media pages. You should also modify each platform’s privacy settings to restrict who may see your posts.
The pages that follow will demonstrate how to do this:
You may modify your privacy settings for recent and old posts on Facebook’s Basic Privacy Settings & Tools page. You can learn how to make lists to limit some posts to a particular audience.
You can find all the information you need to increase the privacy of your account on Twitter’s Safety and Security website. You can find out, for instance, how to stop others from seeking you up using your email address or phone number. You can also learn how to restrict who can see your posts.
The Privacy and Safety Center on Instagram will show you how to make your account private so that only authorized users may view your images. Several methods are depending on whether you’re using Instagram through a browser or the Instagram app.
Even if you have set your social media accounts to “private,” it’s crucial to remember that there is no assurance that your information will stay in your friend group. Your family and friends might spread your posts to strangers through social media or word-of-mouth. And because of this, no matter how careful you are, your personal information could still end up in the wrong hands.
Granting friend requests from unknown people.
You can grant someone you don’t know in real life access to your postings and any personal information they might include by accepting their friend request. They can also message you if you’re on Facebook. This implies that con artists can send you phishing messages over Messenger.
Making friends with strangers also exposes you to romance scammers who try to con you into transferring them cash or private information.
Have you ever had a friend request sent to you by someone you already have a friendship with? These requests come from con artists who want to expand their networks by creating phony accounts that are copies of actual users. Accepting these requests has another negative effect: it leaves your account open to account cloning.
Participating in games and quizzes that demand profile information
It would help if you paused before participating in online quizzes or social media games to ensure you aren’t unintentionally disclosing excessive personal information. Fun tests like “10 facts people might not know about you,” “What sort of pizza are you?” or “What does your pet say about your personality?” are frequently just ways for data-mining firms or scammers to steal your personal information as well as that of your acquaintances.
For instance, the well-known holiday quiz “What’s Your Elf Name” tricks you into providing your name and birthdate, which identity thieves might use in conjunction with other information to steal your identity.
Does closing your social media accounts help guard against data breaches?
We don’t blame you if you’ve read this post and are prepared to take drastic measures to remove any traces of your social media activity from the internet. Although closing your account can assist in reducing the amount of information about you that is publicly accessible online, it is not a foolproof approach to guarantee that your data won’t be hacked.
Although there are many reasons why social media is terrible for your security and privacy, it does offer users, from novices to experts, the chance to learn how to secure their information better online. You can navigate and use the internet more safely by being aware of privacy settings and third-party app permissions.