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How to Protect Your Identity on Social Media

Sep 14, 2018
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How to Protect Your Identity on Social Media

Social media as we know it today just passed its 20th birthday. One of the earliest social media sites, Six Degrees, was established in 1997. It allowed users to make friends, send messages, and post messages to their bulletin board. Social media has come a long way since the days of Six Degrees.

Social media allows us to connect with others around the world effortlessly. We can share posts, make friends, and watch videos. It provides a platform for people to promote their business or share news. In the course of their life, the average person will spend about five and a half years on social media. It’s safe to say that we are addicted to social media.

As social media platforms have evolved, so have the tricks and tactics of devious hackers and identity thieves. With all the time we are spending on sites like Facebook and Instagram, it’s important to know how to protect our identity.

Follow These Tips to Protect Your Identity on Social Media

1. Protect Your Personal Information

Don’t share any personal information such as your address, social security number, or credit card number. This may seem obvious but there are those foolish enough to do it. There’s a Twitter account dedicated to retweeting pictures that people have posted of their credit cards. Putting too much information out there can make you a target for identity theft and scams. Crooks can use your information to apply for a driver’s license, passport, or loan. Some pieces of information to avoid posting online are: your date of birth, hometown, home address, year of high school or college graduation, and primary e-mail address. (Source: eonetwork)

2. Skip the "About" Section

You don’t have to fill in everything in the “about me” field. The less you share, the better. Security questions to reset your password often ask simple things like your favorite color or the town where you were born. If these things are in your bio or somewhere on your page, someone can easily change your password and gain access to your account. When setting the answer to your security question, use a password as the answer.

3. Use Multi-factor Authentication

If given the option, enable multi-factor authentication which will require you to provide another piece of information along with your username and password to log in.

4. Lock Down Your Privacy Settings

One of the easiest ways to protect your identity on social media is to review the privacy settings. If you’re going to put any personal information on your profile, it’s best to change your privacy settings so that only your friends and family can see it.

5. Know Who Your Friends Are

Carefully consider who you are adding as a friend. Don’t carelessly accept friend requests from strangers in an effort to boost your followers and make yourself seem more popular.

6. Keep Your Location Private

It's tempting to want to "check in" when you are out and about. Don’t share your location. Think twice before letting all your followers know that you just booked a trip to Aruba or before sharing that picture you took at dinner tonight in Italy. Letting everyone know that you’re not home is an open invitation to potential burglars.

7. Delete Abandoned Accounts

Delete accounts that you no longer use. If you haven’t logged into an account for years, then there’s no reason to keep the information associated with it online.

8. Quizzes are a Trap

Stay away from social media quizzes. They often ask questions like your mother’s maiden name or the name of your first dog. These are common security questions, and their answers can be used by hackers to gain access to your accounts. For example, one viral Facebook quiz required users to submit information from their past, like the street they grew up on, to create their royal wedding guest name. These quizzes can also trick you into clicking on suspicious links. Before taking a quiz, make sure that a reliable source created it.

9. Switch up Your Passwords

Use a different password for each account and always make sure your password is a strong one.

10. Sign up for Identity Protection

Invest in an identity theft protection service like IdentityForce, Identity Guard, or LifeLock. These services will monitor your bank accounts and credit cards and report back to you if any suspicious activity is detected. They also offer recovery services if your identity is stolen.

Social media is a place where we can create and share content and communicate with others. Unfortunately, there are those who misuse social media for their own advantage by stealing identities and money. If you’re not careful, it can be easy for these ill-doers to collect enough information about you to inflict some serious damage.

A recent example of identity theft is a soldier in Iraq who discovered that someone was repeatedly logging into his bank account online and withdrawing money. A security expert was able to gain access to his bank account with just his name, email, and Facebook profile.

Social media sites encourage users to share their personal information in order to target ads towards their visitors and increase their ad revenue, so adding personal information is to their benefit, not yours. Social media is a useful tool for expanding and promoting your business and connecting with others. But you must use it responsibly and take precautions to protect your identity.

By remembering these 10 tips to protect your identity on social media you can focus on the fun of social media and not the fear of having your identity stolen.

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Ava Bavaro

By Ava Bavaro

As our marketing intern, Ava is the junior member of our SMA Marketing team. Her interests include web security, coding, anime, and K-Pop. She looks forward to a future career in cyber security.

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