I bet you know about the downfall of congressman Anthony Weiner via a ‘simple’ tweet. Weiner is not alone in the mistaken belief that private social interactions are truly ‘private’. It is therefore important to take necessary precautions when using the various social media currently available. Social networking is a powerful tool. However, you should know how to stay safe while taking advantage of it.
Remember your interactions are not as ‘private’ as you think
As much as we are more sophisticated than computers, they tend to store things better than we do. The human mind is prone to forget things within a relatively short period. On the other hand, computers store things with great accuracy. The exact message you have posted can easily be replicated and shared with thousands or millions of other people.
If you don’t want it to be seen, don’t post it
When Weiner posted the ‘suggestive’ mirror picture of himself on Tweeter, he didn’t expect it to be shown to the entire world to see. If there is something you would not want even one person to see, then don’t post it.
Enhance the privacy settings in your account
It is highly unlikely that you will stop using social networks because of the associated risks. Therefore, ensure you adjust the privacy settings in your account, bearing in mind that the default setting in most of the networks is sharing mode. Adjust the settings so you share some things with the people within your social circle only. It is a good idea to use groups to limit the people with whom you share conversations.
Limit the number of people with whom you share information
The current social networks make it very easy to share different pieces of information with very many people. Many people would like to expand their networks as much as possible. For instance, the more followers people have on Tweeter, the happier they are. The problem is that you can mistakenly share something you wouldn’t have wanted to make that public. It is better to have a relatively smaller circle of trusted people in your network.
Delete old accounts
People tend to sign up with new social networks as they become available. With time, however, they start using some of the networks more and more rarely until it reaches a time when the accounts get obsolete. Considering the types of information you often give when signing up, you leave a lot of information about you online, some of which may no longer portray the real you. Delete all such accounts.
Maintain a record of your posts
Always maintain copies of everything you post online. This will give you an idea of the impression you create online and act as proof in case someone tries to tarnish your image.
Only post the things you would tell someone in person
The relative distance the internet provides can make you too brave. You may say some things you would never imagine of telling someone face to face. Use the Chinese maxim of not writing a letter when you are angry.
Avoid sharing your location
As great as the current location-sharing features seem, it is not a good idea to share your location. Turn these features off and never post anything about where you intend to go. Of course, you can share the pictures you had taken while on vacation once you are back.
Take care with children
Do not post pictures of your children. You should also never allow children below the age of 13 to use the social networks irrespective of how much they plead.