Security Woes: Is Social Media An Open Door?

How secure are your social media accounts? Take a look at a few of the aspects that may concern you…

Social media users are reminded time and time again to be responsible and vigilant when it comes to the security and privacy settings on the various accounts they hold. But the truth is, this can be difficult to keep up with for a variety of reasons. Many users aren’t being as careful as they should be.  

Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions, as well as the various privacy settings on networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, change frequently. This is partly because these networks are contending with ever-growing users and simultaneously grappling with the necessary alterations to keep users safe. But critics say it’s because networks try to keep certain changes somewhat hush-hush to ensure that users are accepting them.

Meanwhile, users grow complacent from using these networks so routinely and assume that they are safe, without keeping track of the changes that are taking place. Even if they get notifications from a social network asking them to review their settings, it’s common they might just put it off or ignore the notification all together. This sense of resignation or inertia can unknowingly put users at risk.

Social Media Sweeps

Indeed, it is often only when a social media user has been hacked, their account compromised, or their information found by someone they didn’t intend for it to be seen by that they begin to pay attention to their social media settings. To avoid this, it’s best to do a sweep of privacy settings across all your social media accounts every few months to make sure you haven’t opted into any permissions unknowingly. As 2016 wraps up, there is no better time to start such a habit than a New Year. Here is a rundown of the most common settings and changes you should aim to keep track of in your social media accounts.

Location Services

Sometimes location services on a service like Instagram or Facebook are necessary or helpful, because they help tag a location that you want to share. But having this enabled all the time means that people can sometimes track too much about where you’re posting from, especially if you’re a prolific user of a service like Twitter that’s geotagging every tweet. So, when it is not necessary to share your location, turn that setting off. Only opt into location sharing on a post-by-post basis, rather than a default.


Often people might tag you in a Tweet, Facebook post or Instagram picture because you were present at an event or gathering they are posting from. However, you might not want people to know you were present. Or even worse, someone could be tagging you at an event you were not present at, either by mistake or to troll you. To combat this, turn on tagging approval on all posts. This is a relatively new feature on Instagram, but has been around ON Facebook for some time.

Decide Who Can View Your Profile

If you share a lot on Facebook or Instagram about your life, you might feel safe because you feel you know who you are sharing with (i.e. your friend network). But if you have your account set to “public” and indexable by search engines, anyone can find you. Make sure you’re aware of who is able to see your profile and how much they are able to see. If you’d like ultimate privacy, set your accounts to “protected” and “friends only.”

Look at Past Activity

When social media first became part of our lives, we perhaps weren’t as careful as we are now in terms of what we post. The “limit past posts” option on Facebook is a good kind of blanket-coverage way to limit what people can see, as is simply deleting old content or albums that you perhaps would rather people not see today. Going through your old content often and reassessing if you want it out there is a good habit to develop.

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