Privacy Protection

Maintaining your privacy on social networks is much like hanging all your dirty laundry on a highway billboard–and then asking only your friends to look. While it’s possible to avoid sharing your life’s story with the entire world, it takes a lot of effort and is often contrary to the goals of the services you use. Remember: these services are free because they’re selling access to you.


Your Private Profile

The Risk:

The general goal of social networking is to help you connect and communicate with other people, the privacy settings default to “full open.”  It stays this way because many users do not know how to adjust them. If it is fully opened, then you lose your privacy. You will find people calling you or sending you emails, writing all over your walls, etc.

How to protect yourself:

The ease in customizing privacy settings varies depending on the social networking site. Twitter has just one option. LinkedIn has its privacy settings across several screens while the most popular Facebook has menus which are around five layers deep.

No matter what social networking site you use, it is advisable that you find out where these settings are. Once you find them, the most important settings that you have to adjust are:

Who can read your profile;

Who can see your posts and activities;

What information is shared with external sites and businesses;

Which applications can access your data;

What information your friends can share about you;

Who can see your pictures and/or location;

Which sites integrate with your social network (for example, Facebook’s Like feature).

Most of these networking sites allow you to control privacy levels: one for friends, friend of friends, third party people or everyone.

Your Public Profile

The risk:

All of the services show the world a public profile, one that can be different or the same from the one your internal network (or friends, or friends of friends in that matter) can see. But the public profile can still include private information.

How to protect yourself:

Review your profile and see what information is publuc. Check your settings, log out and check your profile. Better if you can Google yourself. Or you can have a friend check your profile from his or her account.

External Applications or Programs

The risk:

With your approval, most social networks allow access from external applications, games or third party sites. Some of these applications require complete access to your account including access to all of your activities, even information from your friends.

How to protect yourself:

Depending on the application, evaluate if you need it and do not allow access if you dont.

Your Friends

The risk:

They can be the biggest threat to your privacy. You may accidentally reveal too much about yourself by posting or updating your activities, your location, etc. without considering the consequences.

How to protect yourself:

The first rule in social networking is that you always assume that everything you post is public and accessible to everyone forever. These networks are great for sharing and connecting, and not so great for private communication.

The general and basic rule is to always think before you post. That information that you may be posting can be anyone’s lead on what you do and where you are. And considering that crimes happen everywhere, you may be putting yourself at risk.


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