Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tinder, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. this list just does not end. In today’s world of rapid digitalization, socializing has also become a digital affair and the number of social networking sites and users is literally exploding by each passing day. People get on the social networking sites almost every day, be it to post pictures of their recent whereabouts, connect to friends and strangers alike, to find dates nearby or just to pitch in their views about the latest trending topics. Social media is now also a very effective platform for brands to market their business as well as a vital tool for job searches.
However, getting on in social networking sites often leaves a train of personal information online which can be used against the users or can be used as vital information for identity thefts. Since social networking sites often seem to be in direct conflict with a very important policy of using the internet, i.e., protection of identity and vital information to prevent identity theft, each user taking the responsibility of protecting their identity and vital information online is the most effective solution here.
Owning to the alarming number of identity thefts and incidents related to careless social networking that eventually lead to embarrassing consequences, we have curated below a list of tips that can be instrumental in safeguarding your personal information online while using any social networking site.
1. Look Before You Post TMI: it is important to know while posting anything online that how much information is too much information. Being mindful and careful about not sharing Too Much Information (TMI) online can effectively help in preventing identify theft. Here are five things, sharing which is an absolute no, no: date of birth, current home address, PIN numbers, bank account/credit card information, and of course passwords. Although most sites like Facebook allow with an option to restrict who can see such private information, there are many who don’t. For such sites which don’t, e-mailing them and requesting these features is a responsible thing to do. A lot of users making similar demands will make sure the site owners make the necessary amendments. In the case of business profiles, executive search marketing firms can help recruit the right people to see to the business account’s safety online.
2. Limit Work History Details: Putting out your full resume online for everyone to see is an extremely foolish thing to do. These things make the identity thieves’ job easy and convenient to use your information to fill out loan application forms, answer a passcode security question, or to find their way into the company’s network. Limiting work history details on sites like LinkedIn is strongly recommended by cyber-crime experts in order to safeguard delicate information.
3. Selective Interaction: Although it is a trend to have a big number of followers or friends yet it is essential to run a background check before adding someone as a friend or a follower. The easiest way to determine safe users from unsafe ones is to be on the lookout for any unusual activity on that user’s feed.
4. Categorize Your Online Persona: It is always advised to the most appropriate social media platform for each type of social connection. It is always better to add professional acquaintances on LinkedIn, and friends and family on Facebook and Instagram. There have been many incidents where an employee has called in sick but has been caught while bunking work because they accidentally blogged about it on a social networking site. Segmenting posts and sending messages only to people whom you want to see your posts or messages is another effective tip to safeguard information online. Business owners can take help from an executive search marketing firm to employ social media marketing specialists to manage their business pages and profiles so that the messages and campaigns reach the target audience successfully instead of just spamming random users.
5. Avoid the Use of Too many Social Networking Sites: One common rookie mistake that social media users commit is joining too many sites at a time. Concentrating on a small number of social networking sites and tools where mostly your primary friends and acquaintances are active on is another social security tip that is recommended.
6. Avoid Accidental TMIs: Users often tend to accidentally share personal information online publicly which clearly indicate their whereabouts, current location, etc. It is something like putting a note on your door for the thieves stating, “Won’t be home for the weekend, will return on Monday.” It is essentially important to be mindful of these things as social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. often make it very easy for such details to slip that you wouldn’t otherwise tell friends or strangers.
7. Search Yourself Online: Searching yourself on a particular social media network through a friend’s account or viewing your own profile as someone or as ‘Public’ is a very useful trick to know what your social media profile looks like to other users. It is very important to know where you show up or what all information is available about you online so that you can make changes accordingly and safeguard yourself from being a victim of any kind of cyber-crime.
Social networking sites allow individuals and organizations to build communities and networks of contacts through online profiles, etc. which can be a very effective tool for building a career or a useful network of individuals. Not using social networking sites carefully and smartly can, however, lead a user to an embarrassing or unsafe situation. The millions and billions of users online are, therefore, strongly advised to be very careful while using social networking sites.
Kyra is a Hiring Director at Alliance Recruitment Agency – an IT Recruitment Agency. She specializes in helping with international recruiting, staffing, Hire a Coder, HR services and Careers advice service for overseas and international businesses.