The pressure or desire to join social media is often complicated by privacy concerns and the dangers of oversharing. Specifically, many people worry that creating a social media account will result in personal information being spread without their consent.
Although the purpose of social media is to share details of your life with others, it’s possible to strike a healthy balance between sharing and privacy on digital platforms.
There are multiple ways to limit who can see or interact with your posts and comments on social media. To begin with, setting your social media accounts to private can protect your personal information from people you do not know in real life.
When your account is private, other users must request to be friends with you or follow your account in order to see any of your posts or activity. This way, you can screen any of the users who would like to view your account. Furthermore, multiple social media outlets, including Facebook and Instagram, allow you to filter through your followers and friends as to who can view certain posts. If there is only a select group of people you would like to allow to view certain posts, you can manage your audience in your settings.
However, if you are planning on posting content to a select, private group, be aware that anyone can share that content on a public platform. Make sure that you are confident you can trust the people you choose to share private content with because it can easily become public to anyone if in the wrong hands.
Whatever privacy measures you take, make sure that the content you share won’t land you in hot water if it becomes public.
Having a strong password with varying letters, numbers, and special characters can prevent other people from hacking into your account and possibly spreading false or private information online. The longer and more complex your passwords are, the less likely it is for anyone to guess your password.
Furthermore, adding security questions to your account can add an extra layer of safety for your information. When creating your security questions, make sure the ones you choose are memorable to you and have a fixed answer that will not change over time.
Additionally, several social media platforms allow you to set up two-factor authentication in order to add an extra layer of security to your accounts. By adding two-factor authentication, a text message or email will be sent to your device with a confirmation code in order to verify your identity when logging in to any of your accounts.
Social media is a great place to interact with people you would not normally meet, even people from other countries.
Although it’s fun to make connections online, it’s important to be wary about what information you share with people you don’t know in real life. Simple personal information, such as your phone number or even what school you attend, could be detrimental in the wrong hands.
One of the most dangerous pieces of personal information that could be given to strangers is your location. However, many social media websites have features in which you can share your location with your friends, or even just with the public. In order to stay safe, make sure you look in your settings and turn off any feature that shares your location.
Specifically, the social media application Snapchat has a feature called snap map, in which you can share your current location on a map with all of the friends you have added. By turning on Ghost Mode, you can keep your location private.
In order to protect your privacy online, it is necessary that you research and take the steps to stay safe on your social media accounts.
You can be interactive on social media and protect your information as long as you remember the lurking dangers and preemptively combat them by educating yourself and taking action.
To learn more about how to support youth on social media, check out our Digital First Responders Curriculum, which teaches educators about protecting and empowering students online.
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