Remember when we used to socialize by picking up the phone, punching in numbers, and talking to someone via our larynx? Me neither… Cue social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. People continue to jump on the social networking bandwagon, but few people take the precautionary steps to protect themselves from hackers and spam. Luckily Denver-based social media consultant and MOCmedia LLC founder, Meredith Chace, is here to help by providing some Facebook and Twitter tips to better protect yourself and your accounts.
Keep it Private: By clicking on “Privacy Settings”—a function you can access in the upper right hand corner of your Facebook account, you can choose your default option for posting by having your posts either be viewable to the “Public,” “Friends,” or whoever you choose with the “Custom” option. Chace reminds us that “Public is going to post to everybody that’s on the web. Public doesn’t mean just Facebook or your friends, it means everyone.” She suggests a “Custom” default so that you can pick who will be able to view your posted content—maybe your boss doesn’t need to see your weekend party pics after all.
App Access: You can also access your “Apps and Websites” within “Privacy Settings” as well. In reference to the “Apps and Websites” section, Chace shares that this is the area “where your information is most likely to be given out to companies and brands without you necessarily knowing.” What really is an app you may ask? “Apps are anything that has asked to connect to your Facebook.” If you click the “Edit Settings” option to the right of “Apps and Websites,” you will get a full list of the apps that you’re using—trust me, there will be apps you didn’t know you even had that have been accessing your profile for who knows how long. You can also click on the apps’ names to see what information they are obtaining from your account. You are able to edit what these apps can access on your account, but this will probably effect how the apps will function thereafter. Chace recommends checking your apps once a month to make sure that there are no unauthorized apps accessing your account.
Lock it Down: The next step is to visit your “Account Settings,” which can also be accessed under the drop down arrow in the right corner of your profile. Click on the “Security” tab on the left side and then click on “Secure Browsing.” Check the box for a “secure connection (https) [sic]” and then save this change. Chace explains, “HTTPS means that you are browsing on a secure network. For instance, when you log onto your bank account online, it’s always a HTTPS network.” By using a secure network, you can better protect yourself from outside network hacking and from personal information being stolen or tampered with.
Stranger Danger: Advice that may seem obvious, but is still not followed most of the time, is blocking strangers that are trying to follow or Tweet you on Twitter. “If you have someone that you don’t know or that looks suspicious or has no followers, just block them or report them as spam. I recommend doing both,” says Chace. Chances are, if the person looks like a stripper and wants to be your friend out of the blue, there’s probably a catch. Click on your list of followers to find the person. Click on the silhouette icon to the right of their name to pull down the “Block” or “Report” option.
Pseudo Links: When in doubt, don’t click. If someone you don’t know Tweets you a link, the golden rule is to not click on it. Chace urges, “If all there is in the Tweet is a ‘Check this out’ and a link, don’t click. This goes for every other social network too.” This will save your from “checking out” some spam. Report the person on your follower list.
Set Your Settings: Click on your username in the right hand corner of your account to access the “Settings” tab. Toward the bottom of the page, you can check the “Protect my Tweets” box, which will make it so that you have to approve followers before they can follow you. (I apologize to all the Twitter users who are in it just for the number of followers for disclosing this information). Just like you did for Facebook, check the “Always Use HTTPS” box to insure that you always have a secure connection and then save all of your changes.
Already been hacked? Never fear, there’s still hope for your social networking. Chace has the answer: “If you do get hacked, immediately change your password and look into contacting Facebook or Twitter.” Just think about the exciting Status Update that you can make afterwards.