Social media sites can be a great way to stay in touch with family, friends, and co-workers, and to make connections with new groups of people. They can also be a great way for others to collect information about you -- particularly if you leave your profile open.
The amount of information you share and with whom is ultimately up to you. But be smart about what you post and take advantage of privacy settings.
Think about who can see your:
- Status updates
- Relationship status
- Date of birth, cell number, background, etc.
If you have not altered your privacy settings, you may be surprised at the number of people who see exactly what you are doing, when you are doing it, and where you are doing it.
Simple ways to increase your social networking security
- Regularly check your privacy and security settings, especially when the site makes changes
- Think before you post anything that is viewable by workmates. Create a group for workmates and hide them from workplace-sensitive posts.
- Think before friending someone you don't know in person. If you're trying to create a public persona or fan base, consider creating a separate "fan" page or public profile which shares limited personal information.
- Make sure the device you're using to access social media has up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware protection. This goes for computers, tablets, and smartphones.
- Review which applications on your smartphone publishes activity to sites and set up filters as desired.
- Assume that anything you post may become permanent -- this includes updates, comments and photos (because even if the social network itself isn't archiving all your posts, another source could be).