Social Networking Safety Tips

In an era when online relationships can easily blossom into in-person relationships, it’s important to be sure that you are actively protecting your personal information. Social media profiles often provide more insight into our lives than we realize. There are a few key guidelines everyone should follow when maintaining content online.

1. Don’t Share PII Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is key information to keep to yourself. While most of us know not to provide strangers with our social security number, there are other more benign pieces of information you want to protect as well. For instance, many people don’t realize that someone who knows both your hometown and the year of your birth can make a pretty good guess as to what your social security number might be. Surprisingly, both of these pieces of information can be found in a plethora of Facebook profiles. Keeping the year of your birth private can be beneficial for more reasons than just modesty.

2. Check Photos Carefully By now, most people have heard that sharing photos of yourself drinking heavily or acting lewdly can negatively impact your employment opportunities. However, there’s more that needs to be addressed when it comes to photos that are posted online. To protect your privacy, be sure your photos do not include your home address, your last name, or the name of your child’s school amongst other things. You want to be sure the photo does not allow people any ways to trace you or your family to your place of residence.

3. Check-in Carefully When using applications like FourSquare or checking in to a Facebook Location, you want to exercise a modicum of caution. Much like in the photo example above, checking in to your child’s school is not a great way to protect their privacy or your own. Similarly, if you have location settings on other services you use, consider your options carefully before creating a special location for your home when sharing socially.

4. Talk to Your Children If you have children, it’s not unlikely that you’re not the only one in your house with social media profiles.  Be sure your children understand internet safety guidelines. This should include, but not be limited to, discussing in-person meetings, privacy protection and passwords. Your children need to protect their personal information and safety in much the same way you do.  While it can be tempting to forbid your children from creating online profiles, education is a safer strategy. It’s important to remember that even if they’re not accessing these profiles at home, they can still create and access them at friend’s homes or even the library. Be sure to educate your child about online profile management.

What other ways do you protect your online profiles?

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