Whether you are new to social media or you are a veteran who has been using it for a decade, it is important that you understand how it works and the implications of everything you do there. Are you using social media wisely? This article will help you answer that question.
If you are not using it wisely and responsibly, this article will also give you pointers to help you do so. As someone has said, social media platforms do not come with a user’s manual. While it is pretty simple for people to find their way around the various platforms, be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any of teh others, what is not often taught is how to be circumspect with information.
The first thing to note is that once you are on a social media platform, you do not really have 100% privacy any more. Those apps monitor you – your location especially. It is also safe that like some other apps, they have access to private info like your Contacts, as well as contents of your SMS and email messages. Yes; those too. Yes; your shiny new Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy phone, and indeed almost any modern smartphone, hands over your information to social media apps all the time. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer Motorola phones, Nokia phones, or OnePlus phones; all phone brands are culprits in this matter.
Also, once you are online, you have a digital footprint that can be traced by anyone who has the motivation and the resources to dig into you. So, in signing up for any social media platform, you have already given up some privacy. You are in public view already.
What you want to avoid though is giving out too much personal/private information, or sensitive information. Even if someone would be digging into your profile, give them work to do while they are at it. It is never a bad idea to make it a little bit difficult for people to get to you. That is why we lock our car and house doors – it doesn’t provide 100% protection, but it is good sense.
Let me share a quick example with you. Recently, I built a fairly detailed profile of a Twitter handle user just by going through their tweets. What did I find on him?
The Twitter handle uses an alias, but the profile I built included: his full name, 2 bank accounts, 2 phone numbers- including one for whatsapp, location of residence, location of office, and personal email address I got all these in less than 10 minutes without searching hard.
You might think you are anonymous because you don’t use your real name. Chances are that if you tweet certain information about yourself, you aren’t. Just imagine how much more information that would be found on this person by someone who was actually searching hard.
Hopefully, the above story paints a fairly good picture of what I am trying to pass across to you. It can be more complicated though. Let’s get into the practical ways to use social media wisely.
13 Tips To Use Social Media Wisely
The key to using social media wisely is to be mindful. That means you be aware of the implications of what you do.
- Assume that everything you post is open to the genral public. That is because most of it is. For example, even though Facebook provides a level of privacy that allows you limit who can view a post to just people on your Friends list, many times, your Friends list does not include only your real friends. So, assume that everything you post is visible to the public.
- In setting up your profile, only include information and details that you really want others to know.
- Unless you want to build a public life as a celebrity, keep private, personal information away from the public. What would qualify as private information? Remember those questions your bank and other service providers ask for as security information – your date of birth, your place of birth, your favourite this and that? Any information that can be useful to a hacker qualifies. Keep such off social media, as much as possible.
- Pictures and videos give away a lot of information. We are a media-happy generation. We share selfies and videos of events, yet these often give away sensitive information. The background of a photo can give away your residence, your vehicle type, colour and registration number, the school your children attend, and more. Screeen media materials before uploading them.
- Still on photos and vidoe, it is good judgement to not post photos or videos that show other people in the background. You never know what danger you are exposing them to. If you cannot blur them out, don’t post the photo or video. Being responsible towards others is part of how to use social media wisely.
- Be careful who you friend/ be careful what you tell or give out to social media contacts, even in private. Unless you know them intimately in person, it is best to assume that you do not really know this person. Handles that ask you all those fun questions are very often social engineering tools: they are often farming information from users.
- If someone messages you on a social media platform to ask you to join a new service or to send them money, it is good practice to give them a call (preferably a voice call) to verify that the message is indeed from them. Sometimes, their account has been hacked and that message is from a scammer, in which their goal is to scam and/or hack you too.
- Be wary of popularity and personality quizes by random apps on Facebook especially. In signing up for those quizes, you grant permissions that can be used to hack you.
- Assume that everything you share on social media will be saved and re-shared with others. Everything. If you post a selfie, someone will save it. It might be someone with a harmless crush or someone who is a stalker. It might be someone who is criminally minded. Again, you want to be careful what kind of information is given in that photo/video.
- Be polite. It might seem like being rude and savage is the new cool, but politeness and courtesy are forever treasured values, especially if you ever want to climb the ladder of success in life. Hiring organisations regularly run searches online to see what kind of person it is that they are interviewing.
- Generally, it is a bad idea to share your private phone number or bank account details in public. You might think that you don’t have a lot of money now to make your account attractive to criminal minds. But time flies and in a few years when you are doing much better, you just might forget that you once shared that information in public. Don’t make life harder for your successful, future self.
- Watch out for untrustworthy links. If an unknown person sends you a link in your DM or private space, have a look at it before you click. If possible, click only links from trusted sources. Links are an easy way to get hacked or phished.
- Lastly, remember that the problem is not the individual pieces of information that you share here and there. The real dange lies in what pictures anyone who collects all of them can paint about you and how they can use a combination of those information to hurt you in some way e.g. hack your account, scam you, etc.
Social media is a great tool in today’s digital age. Should you be active there? I believe so: everyone stands to gain froma social media presence. Just do not get carried away and think that you are only sharing your thoughts when you post info. Many times, your thoughts and ideologies give away tons of information about you. Use social media wisely.