Is Social Media Becoming A Danger?

Is Social Media Becoming Dangerous
It seems like Social Media is all over the place. It doesn’t matter what we do, social media is there. We’ve all become so accustomed to having our different social media channels.


We have Facebook, where we see photos, have conversations, share thoughts, check in to places we are at and so much more.


We have twitter where we share random thoughts, photos of places we are at or things that we are seeing. We share all kinds of information and often times its tagged with our locations!


We have Instagram Where we share photos and tag things with #hashtags making it easy for other people to connect with us. In photos we often don’t realize what other things are seen, such as your cars license plate, your car, your home, pictures of your family and your children.


We have snap chat which is all photos and while you can set them to expire after a period of time, people can screen capture what you send and repost it later elsewhere. There is also the cold hard fact that your photo, while may SEEM expired is not. It’s on a server somewhere; for how long and where is a mystery.

I will be the first to admit, I’m a social media junkie! I love social media. But I have realized is that things like putting a photo of my car out there or my home allows potential trouble. Someone can easily learn what I drive, my license plate, what my kids look like, perhaps where I work or where my kids go to school and so much more. Social Media can be DANGEROUS! Anytime that we post things on the internet we are taking a risk. Once its been put up, even if you remove it, its forever public.

I never really thought about all the dangers until I stopped to think about it after I watched a show on celebrity stalkers. It showed how social media was the number one factor in how the stalkers found the celebrities at any given moment.

How to Stay Safe on Social Media

1. Avoid oversharing. You are on vacation and you want to share photos of that and how much of a good time you are having; but at the same time don’t make it a public announcement that your home is empty and free for someone to enter and take anything they would like. Avoid tagging where you are. This also makes your home, vehicle and other things vulnerable.

2. Google yourself. Find out what comes up. Perhaps some of your social media profiles aren’t as secure as you thought. Maybe you entered your phone number or email address on Facebook so friends could get in touch with you but you don’t have the settings set right and it’s available for everyone to see. You can see it when you look at your profile because well you see everything in your profile. If you ask a friend to look, they will also see it because you seemingly have it set for friends to see it. But if you google it and you see it, you have some work to do on your security settings. Be safe. It’s not vain to google yourself for your protection.

3. Learn how these social media sites are using your information and keep up with privacy practices. Social network sites are typically free to use. This means they are making their money by advertising to you. That means they are collecting information about you. How do you use the site, what do you view on the site, what do you interact with on the site (those awesome ad sponsored Snapchat filters), WHO do you interact with on the site (you know how you only see 1/2 your friends on Facebook), the list goes on. The privacy policies are ALWAYS changing and most of us do not take the time to read them, don’t care to read them, or they are written so long and in so many words that we don’t even understand what we are reading. If companies merge, are bought out or sold, privacy policies will change. Privacy policies are subject to change at ANYTIME and this is in the original privacy policy that you agree to when you join the social media site. They hook, line and sinker you right from the start. Be aware.

4. Keep “friends” your friends. Having thousands of friends doesn’t make one person better then another when it comes to ANY of the social media platforms, unless of course you run a business. Now for me, I have personal accounts and accounts tied to my blog. My blog accounts have LARGE numbers. That’s okay. I share very little if any personal information on those blog accounts. It’s a business. My personal accounts, I share much more personal information, but you have to be a friend to get on those accounts. I am very selective and for good reason. Protect yourself. It is best to only friend people who really are or have really become your friends. Your personal information then has less opportunity to get out there for misuse.  If you do get an unsolicited invite to connect (and I know we all do, I get multiple of these a day, especially on Facebook), check them out first. Try to figure out why you know them or if you even do at all. Maybe you have mutual friends, maybe they are long lost friends from years back (married so they have name changes or they opt not to use their last name on social media but rather first and middle name); it happens and in these cases it’s up to you to decide if you feel comfortable reconnecting/connecting with these people. If you cannot identify the person it’s probably best to decline the request. You need to protect your personal information.

5. Keep your personal information private. It is always better to omit information about yourself rather than include it on your social media. For example, on Facebook it asks where you work, putting your occupation rather then your employer is probably a better option. If it asks your current city, you can put the state or the Bay area rather then the actual state, which still gives people information but makes it a little more difficult to figure out your home address or zip code.

6. Set strict privacy settings. Make sure you make all of your personal information, such as your birthday, current location (if you chose to share that, but I would see #5), workplace (if you chose to share that, but again I would see #5), where you went to school, who you are married to, your career, etc is private or visible to only your friends; not friends of friends (be careful with that setting!). When your privacy settings aren’t as strict, you’re giving strangers easy access to all of your information. This is again where I say in #2 Google yourself. Double check that things are showing as privately as they should be!

7. Log out of your social media. I know this may seem like a pain in the butt, and you might think well it’s my computer at home, but you may use a work computer, library computer, hotel computer, friend’s computer or any other public computer and forget to log out. Just make it a habit. It takes someone one look and the reality is that we all have some private information on our social media.It could be just your name and photo and maybe a few of your friends and you could set yourself up for identity theft or any number of things. You don’t want to give ANYONE easy access to YOUR identity. I am guilty of not logging out of my accounts on my phone, but my phone is password protected by both a code and my thumb print. It’s also generally glued to my hand or in my pocket, it’s not an excuse though. I know I am playing a gamble. I need to work on this.

8. Use strong passwords. Don’t use the dog’s name. Don’t use your cat’s name. Don’t use your name with numbers at the end. Use a STRONG password with a combination of numbers, letters and symbols. It’s secure, no one will guess it and your information will be secure. And for the younger audience, no matter how much of a best friend she/he/they are, do not share your password with ANYONE. The only exception to this rule is my rule as a parent. My children MUST give me their social media passwords or they cannot have the accounts. PERIOD! This is not until they are 18 either, this is until they no longer live under my roof and until they pay their own cell phone bills (since they access their social media via their cell phones 99.99% of the time). Parents are the exceptions. I’ve never used the passwords, but if I need to I will. I love Passwords Generator for making a nice strong password. I know you think you will forget it, but in time they become easy to remember. I promise. I have multiple secure passwords through them!

Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you stay safe on the ever booming social media. It seems we just can’t get enough of our social media channels and I know that social media has done a lot of good. I’ve seen news spread about missing animals, missing children, people selling things, etc and it’s all been successful, but at the same time I’ve seen a lot of bullying and things that are not so nice. We need to be careful and we need to make sure we are being cautious when it comes to what we share, why we are sharing it and most importantly protecting ourselves. As someone who uses social media almost daily (for my blog business) I have to say as I’ve watched it evolve it can be overwhelming at times and at times I have wanted to shut it all down, but in the end I do want to share things with my friends and family. It’s all about knowledge. Knowledge is power.


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