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How To Protect Yourself on Social Media

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Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Social networking has become second nature.  Among the best-known options, Facebook is by far the most popular, but the others are seeing significant increases in usage from past years. Yet just a little over two years ago the Pew Research Center found that only 38% of online adults are aware of ways to limit how much personal information websites can collect about them when they surf the Internet.  There are multiple mechanisms for protecting privacy—but it is up to individual users to opt in to the highest levels of protection.  Peace of mind requires taking action and continued vigilance, because things can change.

Facebook - According to a Consumer Reports survey, 28% of Facebook users share all, or almost all, of their timeline posts with an audience wider than just their own friends—potentially expanding their exposure to thousands or more.  The lock icon (in the blue band at the top of your profile, to the right of your name) provides shortcuts to control who has access to your activity, under the drop-down “Who can see my stuff?”  To go back over past activities, click on the Activity Log, hover over the audience icon to tailor access to individual posts.  While you are at it, go through the quickie (three-step) Privacy Checkup to double-check that you are sharing only with people you want.  Among Facebook users, the median number of Facebook friends is 155, when asked how many of those they considered “actual” friends, the number was 50.

Instagram - Creepy but true, sharing a picture of your cat can disclose the precise location of your house.  Although “Add to Photo Map” is initially set to Off, the Instagram app remembers your last command and automatically stays on after you list a location, unless you go out of your way to slide it back to Off.  Your images are flagged on the geolocation map, street names and all, with incredible accuracy—even if you don’t list a specific place.  This means that if you are not too picky about who follows you, a stranger can easily identify your abode.  To play if safe, set your profile to private.

Twitter - Beware of tweets that sound scandalous and bark “watch now” commands.  These sites are usually corrupt streaming services that ask users to install Flash Player or YouTube updates (which are, in fact, data-mining Trojans, or fake programs that pose as legitimate software).  Since Twitter links are often shortened ( or, make sure you are following reputable accounts.

In addition, here are four more helpful hints to further beef up your security.

  1. Go off the grid.  A Consumer Report survey revealed that 4.8 million people have used Facebook to announce where they plan to go on a certain day.  Never announce that your house is unattended.
  2. Like judiciously.  Cybercriminals hijack legitimate “Like” buttons and websites to download malware.  Back in 2013, a popular NFL Facebook fan page was infiltrated by a data-stealing Trojan that advertised desirable discounts.  Those who clicked on the sale link inadvertently installed malware that sneaked into banking sites to capture routing information, and then sent the information to an online gang tied to identity theft.
  3. Keep everything separate.  Stalkers or anyone with malicious intent, will likely look to connect all your social network presences.  Keep accounts as unique and distinct as possible by using different nicknames, email addresses and pictures.
  4. Protect your password.  Don’t use the same password for all accounts and change it periodically.  The ultimate goal is to make the password as difficult as possible for someone to guess.

If you feel that your financial information has been compromised contact Solidarity immediately by stopping by one of our convenient locations or by giving us a call.

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