Social media, by its very nature, is social. As such, the default settings on most social media sites are public, meaning that anyone, anywhere, can see what you post. There are many reasons you might consider tightening up security of your personal social media profiles. In particular, you might consider the impact public social media accounts might have on your employment opportunities. For example, you may not want current or potential coworkers and supervisors viewing the photos your friend tagged you in during your spring break trip to Cancun. Similarly, if you are in a profession with a rotating caseload, you may not want consumers googling your name, finding your Facebook page and learning things about your marital status, religious, or political beliefs.
By taking a few simple precautions you can improve the security of your personal social media sites and even use social media to improve your employment opportunities by creating a professional online presence. However, it is important to remember: if you wouldn’t be comfortable sharing it with everyone, don’t post it.
Update your privacy settings
As mentioned above, most default social media settings are public. Take time to change your privacy settings so only your current friends and connections can view your profile. Keep in mind that social media platforms occasionally update their privacy settings and you will need to adjust your social media settings accordingly. Facebook in particular has some unique settings to help your protect your privacy.
Create strong passwords
Use a password that cannot be easily guessed by a robot or another human being. Passwords should be at least 12 characters, include both numbers and symbols and not be a dictionary word.
Log out of your accounts
Log out of your social media accounts when you are finished using them. It may be convenient to have your web browser save your passwords, but this makes it susceptible to hackers and other people who might use your computer.
Screen your friends and connections
Think about how you use your social media platforms before accepting new friend requests. You might decide it is fine to connect with your workers and supervisors on LinkedIn, but prefer to keep your Facebook account closed to all but your close friends and family.
Think before you post
This goes back to using discretion when making posts. For example, think about how a photo might give away your location if you are standing in front of an iconic building. Or,a post could give away your family medical history if you share a picture of yourself walking in breast cancer relay in memory of your grandmother.
In today’s digital age, it is difficult to be completely anonymous online and you probably don’t want to be! There are many reasons to have professional online presence including for finding and maintaining employment. However, it is important to keep your professional and personal social media profiles separate. Following the steps above will help you maintain your privacy and put your best foot forward.
Photo via Visual Hunt