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10 Ways to Protect Your Privacy on Social Media

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Our social lives have experienced a complete upheaval in the last decade. Social media and online networking is entwined with our everyday lives. These accounts can provide us with great ways to keep in touch with friends and family, especially if you’re separated by vast physical distances. However, social media also opens up major privacy concerns, since we often reach broader audiences than we intend to. Online identities can prove problematic as people apply to jobs, build relationships, or even try to avoid cyber stalkers. Here are 10 ways to crack down on your social media privacy settings and take control over what people see.

1. Protecting Your Tweets

If your account on Twitter is public, then each tweet can potentially reach an unlimited audience. The keywords and hashtags in your posts will be searchable by the public. If you don’t need to communicate with the public at large, then you might want to consider switching over to a protected Twitter account. Protected posts are only visible to followers that have your approval. This can be an ideal way to network with your close friends, family, and audience members. It gives you an intimate space to share updates with a select group of people. Also, protected Tweets won’t be indexed by search engines, so no one will be able to view your Twitter updates when they Google you.

2. Turning Off LinkedIn Activity Broadcasts

So maybe you’re looking for a job and you start following several companies on LinkedIn. The only problem is that these interactions are broadcast on your activity feed. This can alert your current employer that you’re searching for new work. Do your connections really need to know every time you make a change to your profile, follow companies, or write recommendations? If not, dig into your Activity Broadcasts setting and uncheck this feature.

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3. Restricting LinkedIn Update Followers

LinkedIn allows users to post updates, much like the status updates of Facebook. Other people, including those outside of your network circles, have the option to subscribe to these updates without adding you as a connection. By clicking on the privacy setting, “Choose who can follow your updates,” you can restrict this audience to your connections, rather than the public at large.

4. Limiting Future and Past Facebook Posts

Think about the nature of your Facebook posts. Unless you’re trying to promote products or services to the public, then it’s a good idea to keep your personal posts private. Seemingly innocuous public posts can become risks in the future. For example, you might not believe that publicly posting about your vacation is a major concern. However, this information could be used by criminals hoping to target unattended homes. You can restrict the audience of your past and future Facebook posts by visiting the “Privacy Settings and Tools” section and changing the settings under “Who can see my stuff?”

5. Changing Facebook Friend Request Settings

Spammers and cybercriminals will sometimes target users with public Facebook profiles, attempting to phish information by sending out random messages and friend requests. You can reduce risks to your online identity by restricting friend requests to “Friends of Friends” in the “Who can contact me?” section of Facebook’s privacy settings.

6. Preventing Search Engines from Indexing Your Facebook

Do you want anyone to find your Facebook posts when they type your name into a search engine? How about prospective employers? You can quickly turn off search engine indexing by unchecking the “Let other search engines link to your timeline” box in Facebook’s privacy settings.

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7. Preventing Facebook Email and Phone Lookup

If you want to prevent members of the public from looking up your Facebook account using your phone number or email address, then visit Facebook’s privacy settings, navigate to the “Who can look me up?” section, and change the drop-down menu option to “Friends” or “Friends of Friends.”

8. Not Referring to Other Social Media Accounts

Many social media platforms allow you to fill in a profile field linking over to your other social networking accounts. However, it can be a good idea to maintain a separation between accounts, especially if they involve different personal and professional identities. For example, you might not want LinkedIn audiences to find your Facebook account. Avoid connecting these accounts to increase the privacy and security of your digital identities.

9. Forcing Facebook Tag Reviews

Let’s say you enjoy a fun night out, drinking with friends at a bar. One of your friends wants to post and tag a particularly embarrassing photo of you shotgunning beer. You can prevent some awkward conversations by requiring tag request approval before your name is linked to a post or photo. This prevents others from attaching your name to content without your consent. Change these settings by visiting Facebook’s “Timeline and Tagging” section.

10. Create Custom Facebook Restricted Groups

You can micromanage precisely which friends see your Facebook posts by creating custom groups. For example, you might not want to unfriend an ex, but you might want to block them from viewing the majority of your posts. Just click “Friends” on your Facebook sidebar and scroll down to the “Restricted” list. Add friends to this list, and they will only be able to see the posts that you mark as “Public.”

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Now do you feel like you have greater control over who sees your social media posts? Reducing the amount of public visibility can increase the overall security of your online identity.

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Featured photo credit: Jeff Sheldonvia unsplash.com

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