Something sure is awe-inspiring about being able to order anything, land your next job, or find a partner without leaving your couch. While it can be a helpful and transformative power in your life, social media doesn’t come without risk. Here are a few simple dos and don’ts you should follow to get the most out of it while keeping yourself safe.
Assume that others will see your posts
That goes for family, friends, employers, and potential love interests. If you wouldn’t show that post to your mom, it’s probably best to tone it down. People post something during a drunken night out or express hurtful opinions they grow out of. Doing so now could bite you in the long run, so why not save yourself the hassle?
Use a password manager
Online personas have become part of some people’s core identities. Moreover, you might run an online business and depend on social media as your income source. Either way, the last thing you want is a compromised account. Data breaches happen all the time, and you could be in a world of trouble if you reuse passwords for several accounts.
The manager can exchange as many weak passwords with complex generated ones that no one will be able to hack. It gives you a master password to remember and can auto-fill the rest, making logging into your socials a snap. The best managers also let you keep info like PINs secure and use two-factor authentication to boost your account security even more.
Use social media to expand your networks and horizons
For all its faults, social media is the best method of connecting with like-minded people. Whether it’s finding a DM for your tabletop role-playing group or your future employer, the networking aspect of social media really can work for you. Practically everyone is searching for employees via social media now, so not having an active account can actually be a red flag.
Watch out for suspicious behavior
Social media allows bad actors to use anonymity and familiarity to take advantage of people. Some might want to tempt you with grand prizes and job opportunities that sound awesome. Sneakier types might copy or infiltrate a brand or loved one’s profile and trick you into downloading malware.
The first kind is easier to dismiss, but the second requires some scrutiny. If your ordinary and inactive uncle suddenly starts sending you vague messages with links to shady sites, you might want to check in with him and report the activity.
Express your personality and interests
Being mindful of your activities on social media doesn’t mean you have to come off as boring! Feel free to explore your hobbies, link to insightful articles, and reach out to established people with whom you feel you have a connection.
Have public profiles
What you’re up to online is no one’s business. Still, anyone can find a shocking amount about you if your profile isn’t private. Making the change takes seconds, yet it can be one of the most impactful things you can do for our online security & privacy.
Accept random friend requests
If you don’t know them or about them in real life, there’s no reason to befriend someone online. You can always get to know people better through discussion boards or Discord servers under an alias and then decide if they’re worthy of joining your inner circle. Treat any other unfamiliar friend and chat requests with suspicion.
A new apartment or your dream vacation is news we can’t wait to share. It’s also the kind of info unsavory types may use to figure out your address and rob you while you’re away soaking up the sun.
Life is hard enough without stressing out over social media comments. Cyberbullying is a real problem that can leave lasting scars. You wouldn’t want others to put you down because of your behaviors and beliefs, so don’t do it either.
Install unknown software or apps
Social media is teeming with ads for everything from supposedly awesome games to apps that can tell your fortune or improve your health. At best, they’re harmless time sinks. Far more often, though, such apps can spy on you, capture your keystrokes and expose your information, or turn your device into a crypto mining tool. Stay away if there are no user reviews, and you can’t trust the source.