Social media is part of our social fabric. So much so that nearly 50% of the global population are social media users to some degree or other. With all that sharing, conversing, and information passing between family and friends, social media can be a distinct digital extension of ourselves—making it important to know how you can protect your social media accounts from hacks and attacks.
Beyond the sheer number of people who’re on social media, there’s also the amount of time we spend on it. People worldwide spend an average of 145 minutes a day on social media. With users in the U.S. spending just over two hours on social media a day and users in the Philippines spending nearly four hours a day, that figure can vary widely. Yet it’s safe to say that a good portion of our day features time scrolling and thumbing through our social media feeds.
Given how much we enjoy and rely on social media, now’s a fine time to give your social media settings and habits a closer look so that you can get the most out of it with less fuss and worry. Whether you’re using Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or whatnot, here are several things you can do that can help keep you safe and secure out there:
1. Set strong, unique passwords
Passwords mark square one in your protection, with strong and unique passwords across all your accounts forming primary line of defense. Yet with all the accounts we have floating around, juggling dozens of strong and unique passwords can feel like a task—thus the temptation to use (and re-use) simpler passwords. Hackers love this because one password can be the key to several accounts. Instead, try a password manager that can create those passwords for you and safely store them as well.
2. Go private
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and others give you the option of making your profile and posts visible to friends only. Choosing this setting keeps the broader internet from seeing what you’re doing, saying, and posting, which can help protect your privacy.
3. Say “no” to strangers bearing friend requests
Be critical of the invitations you receive. Out-and-out strangers could be more than just a stranger, they could be a fake account designed to gather information on users for purposes of cybercrime, or they can be an account designed to spread false information. There are plenty of them too. In fact, in Q3 of 2021 alone, Facebook took action on 1.8 billion fake accounts. Reject such requests.
4. Think twice before checking in
Nothing says “there’s nobody at home right now” like that post of you on vacation or sharing your location while you’re out on the town. In effect, such posts announce your whereabouts to a broad audience of followers (even a global audience, if you’re not posting privately, as called out above). Consider sharing photos and stories of your adventures once you’ve returned.
5. The internet is forever
It’s a famous saying for a reason. Whether your profile is set to private or if you are using an app with “disappearing” messages and posts (like Snapchat), what you post can indeed be saved and shared again. It’s as simple as taking a screenshot. If you don’t want it out there, forever or otherwise, simply don’t post it.
6. Watch out for phishing scams
We’re increasingly accustomed to the warnings about phishing emails, yet phishing attacks happen plenty on social media. The same rules apply. Don’t follow any links you get from strangers by way of instant or direct messengers. And keep your personal information close. Don’t pass out your email, address, or other info as well. Even those so-called “quiz” posts and websites can be ruses designed to steal bits and pieces of personal info that can be used as the basis of an attack.
7. Also keep an eye out for scams of all kinds
Sadly, social media can also be a place where people pull a fast one. Get-rich-quick schemes, romance cons, and all kinds of imposters can set up shop in ads, posts, and even direct messages—typically designed to separate you from your personal information, money, or both. This is an entire topic to itself, and you can learn plenty more about quizzes and other identity theft scams to avoid on social media.
8. Review your tags
Some platforms such as Facebook allow users to review posts that are tagged with their profile names. Check your account settings and give yourself the highest degree of control over how and where your tags are used by others. This will help keep you aware of where you’re being mentioned by others and in what way.
9. Protect yourself and your devices
Security software can protect you from clicking on malicious links while on social media while steering you clear of other threats like viruses, ransomware, and phishing attacks. It can look out for you as well, by protecting your privacy and monitoring your email, SSN, bank accounts, credit cards, and other personal information. With identity theft a rather commonplace occurrence today, security software is really a must.