5 Rules You Should Always Follow to Stay Safe on Social Media

You don't have to stop posting—just follow these tips to learn how to post safely.

Social media is great for staying in touch (or at least sharing life updates) with distant friends and family, but you want to share your life with your friends and family, not stalkers, hackers, or identity thieves. While most interactions on social media are harmless, it's easy enough to take a few steps to reduce your online risks.

Social media safety isn't just about avoiding the wrong people: It's also about avoiding crossing personal and private boundaries with your workmates, clients, or other professional associations. The last thing you want is your income affected by a stupid post or picture. By following a few simple tips, you'll be able to navigate these potentially awkward situations on social media more easily.

01 of 05

Privatize your social life

The first step is to go through your social media apps (and not just the ones you use the most) and change your personal profile to private. Making your profile private is the easiest way to ensure that anyone who wants to interact with your posts has to at least be a friend or follower before seeing what you post. You get to be a gatekeeper for your own safety this way. Otherwise, you're exposed to the entirety of the internet at any moment.

Every social media app or website has different privacy permissions, and some have more specific options that allow you to tailor which posts are shared even among your followers and friends. Take the time to go through them all, and you can be confident that you know who is seeing your posts.

RELATED: 11 Easy Ways to Protect Your Digital Privacy

02 of 05

Share your private information intentionally

Even basic personal information may lead to more private information for hackers or would-be identity thieves. By posting your birthday, where you live and work, or even your last name, you can leave a thread that hackers and scammers can follow: Consider not sharing that information on social media (your real friends will know your birthday anyway, right?) or keeping your account private. Some people even use a middle name as their last name on social media for even more security.

Part of protecting your privacy online means staying on top of your passwords, too. When was the last time you updated your passwords (because you have more than one, right?)? If keeping up with several passwords seems too daunting, consider a password manager: Password safety is not the sort of thing you want to risk.

03 of 05

Avoid posting your location

While it may be fun to brag that you're at the hottest new bar in town, do you want everyone who sees your post (or their friends, clients, etc.) to know where you are at that exact moment? Something as simple as posting your vacation location or pictures could potentially lead to dangerous situations: Scammers, predators, and other problematic people could be watching tourist check-in spots and popular venues on social media for potential targets.

Not every person seeking your location is out to get you, per se. But at the very least, by avoiding posting your location, you won't have to explain to your boss why you seemed so full of energy while you were out on a Thursday night but somehow acquired the infamous 24-hour flu on Friday.

Apps such as Facebook, FourSquare, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter may have convenient options to check in at venues or show that you're part of a massive event, but think about who may be lurking in the background before you post.

04 of 05

Do a business account checkup

A business account's social media safety is as important as that of your personal accounts, if not more so. If you're running a business account, you'll want to stay public, but businesses should still be wary of strange messages, repeated friend requests from duplicate accounts, and odd names accompanied by long number strains.

Be mindful about who you do business with on social media and what information you share across those networks. While you might be delighted at receiving a message about a fantastic offer or business opportunity, it could also turn out to be a scam. As the adage goes: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

05 of 05

Treat your online life like your offline life

Stay aware of what you put out into the world on social media, surround yourself with good people, and make safety and privacy part of your routine. You can live your life and share it with others, but recognizing the risks involved may prevent you from sending the wrong thing out to the wrong crowd. You don't have to be afraid, but you can be safe. If you wouldn't engage in a conversation with a shady stranger at the grocery store, don't do it through a social media messaging, either.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles