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Protecting Yourself on Social Media, Part 1

Nov. 19, 2015 Inside Higher Ed

(Excerpt – Full article is available by clicking “Read More”)

Many of us see social media as a critical part of our lives. The connections to friends, family, and colleagues are easily made and maintained, which to many people makes social media indispensable. Moreover, online expression–including artwork, sharing political opinions, and interacting with strangers–seems to be interwoven into the way we experience the digital world. This post will show you how to manage your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profiles to facilitate a flourishing online presence without endangering future job prospects.

1. Facebook

Facebook is the world’s biggest social network, so we’ll start with fixing your Facebook page. Facebook’s privacy settings are complicated and not user-friendly. There is no simple solution, so we’ll look at five different steps you can take to ensure you’re safe.

  • First, go to the dropdown arrow at the top right of the Facebook page and select Settings. That will take you to General Account Settings, where you’ll have several tabs on the left side of the screen. Select General. In the General screen, you’ll see Name, Username, Email, Password, Networks, and Temperature. Under networks, you’ll see which networks you belong to (for example, my high school and my undergraduate institution are listed). People in these networks can view your profile. If you want to increase your security, you can click Edit, and then Remove on whichever network you no long want to be a part of.

  • Second, go to Security on the left side of the window. If you ever need to deactivate your account, or if you decide changing your privacy settings is too onerous, this is where you can do it.

  • Third, go to Privacy. This is the most important tab because it gives you the option to decide who can see your posts. By Who Can See My Stuff?, click Edit and change it to Friends. Now only people who are your friends can see what you post in the future. However, this does not retroactively change posts you’ve already made. To fix those, click Use Activity Log to review what posts you’re tagged in. If your friends have tagged you in a compromising picture, you can un-tag yourself. Then, click on Limit Past Posts. If you choose to click Limit Old Posts, it will change all your old public posts to being available only for friends. This is the most important step.

  • Fourth, go to Who Can Look Me Up? in privacy settings. If you want to make your profile harder for potential employers to find, change who can find you on Facebook by your email address and phone number. Then change Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline? to No so you won’t pop up in a Google search.

  • Fifth, go to Timeline and Tagging on the left side of the page. These settings allow you to change who can post to your timeline. Under Who can add things to my timeline?, you can change the settings to prevent people from tagging you in compromising content before you review it. Then under Who can see things on my timeline?, you should change everything to Friends so only people you have already become friends with can see what you post. Under How can I manage tags?, change those to Friends as well so people whoaren’t tagged in those posts can only see them if you’re friends. In essence, Facebook’s features allow you to customize who can see what you post. If you limit your audience to only your friends, then you’re probably safe. However, this does not apply to comments you make on public pages, like if you comment on a news story from the Los Angeles Times or comment on a page of a musician you like. Those comments are public because you wrote them on public pages, so be careful about what you say.

Click “Read More” for Instagram and Twitter privacy breakdowns.

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