Stay Safe and Sane on Social Media

Recent scandals such as the one involving Cambridge Analytica have revealed the darker side of social media. Fortunately, you can take a few simple steps to safeguard your data and your sanity.

Tighten up security

Your social data is just as valuable as your bank account, so make sure you use an equally strong password for both. This means using a 10-digit password with upper-and lower-case letters, numbers, and at least one symbol such as the dollar sign. Also, avoid using your Facebook account to log in to other apps — the extra convenience is not worth the security risk.

For even stronger security, consider setting up two-factor authentication. By doing so, you will get a text alert if someone tries to access your account from an unfamiliar computer or device. The alert will include a passcode that you can use to log in if it’s a false alarm. To enable this feature for Facebook, click the downward arrow in the upper-right corner and choose Settings. Next, click Security and Login, then scroll down to Use Two-Factor Authentication, and click Edit. For Twitter, go to Settings and privacy, select Account, and click Set Up Login verification.

Audit your apps

The Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that seemingly harmless social apps could lead to your data being compromised. It’s therefore time to give your Facebook apps an audit. Go to Settings, click Privacy, then choose Apps and Websites to see a list of all the apps you have previously approved. Click on an app to get more details about what information it is collecting and whether it has access to your friends list. You can limit what information an app collects by clicking the appropriate boxes. For example, you might want to give an app access to your email but not your birthday or interests. If you rarely use an app or don’t even remember downloading it, delete it.

Stay hidden

You can take a few simple steps to stop from accidentally broadcasting your location on social media. For iPhone users, go to Settings, Location Services, and choose the appropriate mobile app name. Then change the location setting to Never. Android users can go to Settings and switch the location setting to Off.

Before posting that perfect pic to Instagram, make sure to turn off geotagging. To do this on an iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, and change the Camera setting to Never. On an Android phone, simply open the camera app’s settings, and tap the pin icon to turn off GPS tagging.

Keep it among friends

Your public Facebook posts can give hackers a lot of sensitive information. To protect your family photos and personal updates, go to Settings, and click Privacy (it has a padlock icon). Then go to the “Who can see your future posts?” setting, and change it to Friends.

You can further control who sees an individual post by clicking on the Timeline drop-down menu. Choose the Friends Except setting if you want to hide those crazy party pics from certain people. Just remember that if you choose to make a post public in the Timeline menu, the default setting for all future posts will be changed to Public as well.

Finally, be careful whom you add to your friends list. It’s best to ignore the People You May Know feature as well as random friend requests. If you want to stay in touch with an acquaintance or networking contact, consider using Twitter or LinkedIn instead.

Step away from the phone

To get a restful night’s sleep, log off from social media at least 30 minutes before bedtime, and silence notifications. Also, avoid checking your feeds first thing in the morning, and instead use that time to exercise, pray or meditate, or quietly read. If you’re struggling with social media use throughout the day, consider downloading a blocking app such as Moment or Offtime, which will let you set time limits.

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