How to manage your data on Social Media?

Mar 7, 2022

Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn – so many social media platforms all vying for your attention, time and DATA. The favorite feature for most users is the fact that they are “free”. As discussed in a previous Postfrom the Netflix movie – The Social Dilemma: if you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product. This generally means your data can and will be shared with other entities and manipulated in ways you had not intended or imagined.

A recent research study across 200 iOS apps highlighted that surveillance marketing is still going strong and growing. YouTube and TikTok were found to track user data more than the other social media apps. YouTube collects personal data for its own purposes e.g., online search history or location to serve you relevant content. TikTok allows third-party trackers to collect your data and it’s hard to determine the uses. Generally, users are unable to see what data is shared or how their data will be used for most social media platforms.

Provided below are some basic changes that you can make to their social media profile settings and habits to protect your privacy and data from unwanted parties and those you don’t consent to sharing your information with:


Limit what you are sharing on social media

Be careful on what you are sharing on social media e.g., address, location, date of birth, favorite band, mother’s maiden name, where you grew up, etc. These may be used for password resets and could also be the security questions for your secure transactional accounts such as banking.


Check your mobile app permissions

Most mobile apps have the capability to enable permissions that allow the app to access your contacts, photos, microphone and GPS location. In many cases, these permissions are not required for appropriate functionality of the app but can be used to provide the app developer with personal information that may be used to send advertisements to the user or even track their location for location-based services. It is important to check the apps settings and disable any services that are not required or may be deemed to require personal information.


Verify friend requests and block fake accounts

Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are full of fake profiles. Those fake profiles can be a hacker, a suspicious organization or even a frenemy who wants to monitor your activities with the intent of carrying out a criminal activity. Verify all friend requests prior to accepting then and take the extra step of reporting and blocking such profiles.


Avoid Third-Party Apps on Social Media Sites

Fake websites, malware and misinformation can be hidden in innocent-looking websites and apps with the intent of deceiving users. All users need to ensure that they are only clicking on links from trusted sources such as news outlets or friend profiles.


Update your apps

Many hackers look for vulnerabilities in apps to try and gain access to the users device and data. It’s important to install software updates (patches) when made available by the app developer.

Privacy on social media has become the buzz of the town, and it’s up to you to stay informed and adopt practices that protect your data. When securing your online privacy, less is more.

Oversharing personal information online can have devastating results, as the likelihood of you falling victim to identity theft, impersonation, cyberstalking and related cybercrimes grows considerably. 

Social media is a great way to connect with friends and family and network with professionals, but we need to be cautious how much information we share. By taking the extra steps above and by checking how privacy settings work on each app used, you can ensure that your data is as protected as it can be.


Manage your Privacy settings

All social media platforms have a privacy and security policy. It is worthwhile to know what information is being collected and shared and you should take the time to review and understand the privacy settings. Social media is a powerful data collection machine. 

As an example, Facebook allows users to manage the people they can share information with, review tags by friends and also set up hidden profiles that are not visible to everyone. Similarly, Instagram has a privacy and information settings to set up a private mode where only approved followers can check posts, turn comments on or off and even block specific people from viewing your posts.


Do not refer to other social media accounts

Many social media platforms allow you to fill link to your other social networking accounts. It is highly recommended to maintain a separation between accounts, especially if they involve different personal and professional identities. For example, you might not want LinkedIn audiences to find your Facebook account. Avoid connecting your accounts to increase the privacy and security of your digital identities.

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