In the modern day and age, we’ve come to rely on social media to stay in touch with our friends and family members. However, the social network allows for more than just direct person-to-person correspondence that is meant to stay private; it can very well act as an open journal for everyone to read.
The question is, is it a good idea to let the entire world wide web know every personal detail about us? If there is such a thing as a healthy boundary in this regard, how to go about establishing it? If personal privacy is any dear to you, you’d be well advised to keep the following in mind.
1. Think Twice Before Accepting A Friend Request
A popular profile configuration on social media networks like Facebook is to hide personal information in general, with the only exception being one’s circle of friends that has permission to view everything. That, in essence, is a good way to retain some degree of control of what is shared and what is held private.
However, what good is any of that if you automatically accept every friend request that comes your way? It takes just one fake friend for all of your private matters to become public. Knowing this, you should think long and hard before clicking that ‘accept’ button next time.
2. Don’t Forget To Log Out If You’re Using A Public Computer
You’re probably used to closing the browser after you’re finished with your business on social media. However, unless you sign out to clear the cookies, you’re still going to be logged in the next time you open it.
At home, this is not an issue since you’re the only one who uses the computer. However, if you were to attempt doing the same thing on a public computer, you’d be in trouble – you don’t want the next person who uses it to gain direct control of your account, do you?
The risks include impersonating you, stealing your identity, ruining your friendships, waltzing into your private inbox, and locking you out of your account.
No one can force you to publish any information about yourself online. Speaking of which, you don’t need to have a Facebook account in the first place.
But then again, denying yourself the privilege of using this communication platform only for the sake of protecting your sensitive personal data at all costs would be an extreme step to take.
4. Be Strict With Your Privacy Settings
On social media, your privacy settings are your first line of defense against those who want to stick their nose into your business. Therefore, you should take all the time you need to see what they allow you to do.
Facebook allows you to go quite in-depth with this. As an example, you can set exactly who is allowed to view a certain post, down to their exact name. However, note that Facebook isn’t perfect; sometimes, things can slip through the cracks.
At some point, people discovered that search engines were indexing parts of their profiles, which they had explicitly set to private. Although most bugs like this get fixed eventually, it’s best to take a proactive approach to protect your personal data by not posting it anywhere to begin with.
5. Know Where To Draw The Line
If you post any kind of personal information online, you simply need to come to terms with the risk that someone could leak it.
Therefore, it’s best to evaluate each situation separately to make a decision that feels right to you. With that being said, there are certain things you should never, ever post online. The list includes:
- Your social security number
- Your phone number
- Your address
- Your driver’s license number
At the same time, it would be unwise to post that you’re going on vacation – a would-be burglar may understand that as an open invitation to come to visit your home while you’re away.
For the sake of your personal safety, you should also refrain from announcing where you’ll be headed at a certain date and hour (unless you’re a celebrity of some sort or speaking at a public event).
6. Find Out Who Has Your Data And Opt Out
Even if you take several preventive measures to keep your sensitive information private, it is likely that it has ended up in the wrong hands. But how? “Data brokers” are companies who collect information that is available on the internet and by purchasing it from other organizations.
In addition to social media sites, common avenues for data collection can be loyalty programs, mobile apps, credit card companies, and web browser cookies. It is possible to opt out from data brokers’ databases – a manual process that typically takes several months to come to fruition.
Alternatively, automated data removal tools such as Incogni can take opt you out from multiple brokers faster.
As you can see, the safety of your personal information depends on how you treat it. Therefore, you should take the steps necessary to keep it safe, most of which revolve around taking a proactive approach to safeguarding it.