There’s no doubt about it: college is just downright fun. Many going through this phase of life are independent from their parents for the first time, which brings a whole host of liberties and ramifications. Furthermore, it is a time of uncharted territory, finding oneself and learning enough to burst. College is a time unlike any other in life, and it can be easy to get swept away in the chaos of it all, especially in this era of social media. The fact of the matter is: College isn’t forever. The internet sure is, though.
Learning how to stay safe on social media takes just a few minutes but will help you in college and in the years after you graduate. Keep reading to find out how to do it best.
Learn the ins and outs of privacy settings.
Over the last few years (even more so, the last few months) the privacy settings of each social platform have changed drastically. Make sure to learn the ins and outs of each platform’s privacy settings and implications and adjust accordingly. You may think that your Instagram profile is private, when in fact it is still set to public. You may believe that there’s no way your internship supervisor can see your Facebook photos… when, in fact, they just might be able to.
To learn these ins and outs, look no further than the websites themselves. They break down their platforms and privacy practices to help you understand their language.
- For Facebook, work through their online help center. There, you’ll find everything you need to know about the privacy settings you can choose, as well as what to do if you feel unsafe online, how to spot a hacked or fake account, how to report abuse or a privacy violation and more.
- The Twitter help center is a wealth of knowledge on keeping your tweets right where you want them, while also serving as a guide on what to do about spam, abuse, tracking, etc.
- As Instagram is one of the newest social media platforms, many may disregard it as a threat, even despite the fact that it has become one of the most used across the globe. The Instagram help center provides quick tips on everything from setting profiles to private, removing followers and choosing which comments appear on your posts.
Even so, social networking sites aren’t a fortress of cybersecurity.
You may think that there’s no way potential employers would ever see those pictures you posted from last weekend’s party, but think again. According to U.S. News, more than 45 percent of employers use the various social networking platforms to screen potential candidates. Some will even ask their younger employees to send friend or follow requests to these potential candidates in hopes of gaining unadulterated access to what they may find out to be the profile of someone “unfit” for such a position. Further still, many of today’s employers are increasingly requiring full transparency with their employees and their social profiles. Their reasoning behind this: You are a reflection of their company, so they deserve to keep tabs on what your personal brand looks like to others. They want to know that you aren’t going to tarnish their reputation.
We (especially the college students in the audience and younger) live in a society where we are aggressively encouraged to post about every last detail of our lives, from where we live to what we eat for lunch. The appeal of posting certain pictures is certainly undeniable, but just isn’t worth it. A good rule of thumb when it comes to what’s appropriate: would you show it to your grandmother?
Okay, back to those privacy settings we talked about.
Sure, you read through the various pages of Help Center guides and updated all your personal settings. Now, be sure to reevaluate this process. All. The. Time. You wouldn’t just create a password to your online banking and never change it, would you? Don’t rest on the laurels of rusty safeguards. A good example of when this is important is Facebook. On this platform, you can select specific audiences for individual photos, photo albums, statuses, the list goes on. Be diligent and think about who might see your content as often as you think about that perfect hashtag, and every time you post.
Remember that some secrets are a good thing.
The same rules of stranger danger from childhood still apply: keep your sensitive personal information off your social media profiles. Don’t broadcast your address, be weary of listing your phone number (though some people do choose to link their social profile with their phone number) and keep an eye on your location tracking settings.
Learning how to stay safe on social media takes a lot of common sense and a few pushes in the right direction. However, if you take the steps to protect yourself and your profiles, social media can serve as a helpful way to network, share memories and have the best college experience you can.
Feeling overwhelmed by student life? We can help with that. Student360 is the first professional conference in the Midwest for students pursuing security, continuity and risk-related studies. Hosted by the Upper Midwest Security Alliance, it will be held at 3M Headquarters on Friday, February 22, 2019. Learn more about this great career-building opportunity here!