When was the last time you checked your privacy settings on your social media profiles? Being aware of the information you share is a critical step in securing your online identity. Below we’ve outlined some of the top social media sites and what you can do today to help keep your personal information safe.
FACEBOOK Social Media Privacy
Click the padlock icon in the upper right corner of Facebook, and run a Privacy
Checkup. This will walk you through three simple steps:
Who you share status updates with
A list of the apps that are connected to your Facebook page
How personal information from your profile is shared.
As a rule of thumb, we recommend your Facebook Privacy setting be set to “Friends Only” to avoid sharing your information with strangers. You can confirm that all of your future posts will be visible to “Friends Only” by reselecting the padlock and clicking “Who can see my stuff?” then select “What do other people see on my timeline” and review the differences between your public and friends only profile. Oh, and don’t post anything stupid!
I’m starting a new video series on my AskSileo YouTube channel to address common questions that parents have about their kid’s safety on Facebook and online privacy in general.
AskSileo Episode 1: Children’s Safety on Facebook and Social Networking (drawing from first-hand experience)
I get this question all of the time: Is my kid safe on Facebook? The answer to that questions depends on three basic factors:
On the surface, social networking is like a worldwide cocktail party—full of new friends, fascinating places and tasty apps. Resisting the urge to drink from the endless fountain of information is nearly impossible because everyone else is doing it—connecting is often advantageous for professional reasons, it’s trendy and, unchecked, it can be dangerous.
Beneath the surface of the social networking cocktail party lives a painful data-exposure hangover for the average business. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are now the preferred tool for malware delivery, phishing, and “friends-in-distress” scams while more business oriented sites, like LinkedIn, allow for easy corporate espionage and the manipulation of your employees.
To avoid the cocktail party altogether is both impractical and naïve—the benefits of social networking outweigh the dangers—but applying discretion and wisdom to your social strategy makes for smart business. Follow these 7 Security Secrets of Social Networking to begin locking down your sensitive data.
The post appears like it’s coming from a known friend. It’s enticing (“check out what our old high school friend does for a living now!”), feeds on your curiosity and good nature, begs you to click. A quick peek at the video, a chance to win a FREE iPad or to download a coupon, and presto, you’ve just infected your computer with malware (all the bad stuff that sends your private information to criminals and marketers). Sound like the spam email of days gone by? You’re right – spam has officially moved into the world of social media, and it’s like winning the lottery for cyber thugs.
What is Social Spam?
Nothing more than junk posts on your social media sites luring you to click on links that download malicious software onto your computer or mobile device.
Just for a minute, put yourself in the shoes of Anthony Weiner. You’ve done something exceptionally stupid, whether it’s sending sexually explicit photos of yourself to strangers you don’t even know, or another unrelated mistake. To compound the stupidity, you involve social networking – you Facebook or tweet or YouTube the act – or even simply email details of what you’ve done.
Everyone of us makes impulsively bad decisions (probably not as bad as Weiner, but bad nonetheless). Prior to the internet, you at least had a chance to recover from your past transgressions, as there wasn’t a readily accessible public record of the act unless you happened to be caught on tape (think Nixon, Rodney King, etc.). But now that pretty much every human carries either a camera or video recorder with them at all times (mobile phones), can communicate instantly with a massive audience (Facebook, Twitter, SMS, blogs), and have access to more information than exists in the Library of Congress just by pulling up Google, the equation of how you control sensitive information about yourself has changed radically. Every stranger (and even friend) is like a full service news station with video, distribution and commentary, just waiting to report on your missteps.
Here are three lessons the rest of us can take from the Anthony Weiner affair:
Fame raises the bar. Celebrity, for all of it’s glory, puts a spotlight on your conduct. When you get paid for attracting attention, you are bound to attract unwanted attention. Unless your brand consciously involves a rebel persona (Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, Dennis Rodman – in other words, the more trouble you get in, the more money you make), you will be held to a higher standard than those of us who fly under the radar. Fame has its faults. Remember when Gary Hart challenged the press to prove he wasn’t a standup guy? Now everyone who has even the most basic tech tools is an instant paparazzi.
Mind the 3 Laws of Posting Online. When you post anything online, what you have published is most often immediately public, permanent and exploitable. You may think that you have a claim to privacy online, but you are deluding yourself. What you upload is only as private as the company or individual housing the data. Once you post, there is no “taking it back”. Weiner removed his tweets quickly, but posts, pictures and videos are backed up, re-tweeted, liked, screen captured and otherwise saved long before you can put a stop to it. Finally, as this case reinforces, what you post online can and will be used against you if it falls into the wrong hands. In Weiner’s case, the wrong hands were those of a political enemy, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart. Because Weiner chose to make the posts public (even accidentally), Breitbart has a free pass to commit perfectly legal extortion. Before it is all over, the Democratic party will lose one of it’s brightest stars. That is probably a just result, but there is still a question about the forceful nature of the means involved.
Admitting fault early and often. If you’ve done something wrong and it is recorded online, “hang a lantern on it” as quickly as possible. This is a phrase that Chris Matthews used in his book on political survival, Hardball. To summarize Matthews position, if you make a mistake and it goes public, admit to it as quickly as possible, take ownership of the wrongdoing and don’t lapse into the web of lies brought on by panic. Hang a lantern on it – expose it to the light, take your lumps and move on. In the end, what will bring Weiner down will likely not be his obscene tweets or explicit photos. Rather, it will be the fact that he blatantly lied about his posts. Had he come clean immediately, he would be judged as a person who made some mistakes just like the rest of us, not as a Congressman who deliberately mislead his constituents.
And there is a larger, more important lesson in all of this. In a world where your every action is subject to capture, publication and mass distribution, it’s far easier to be a moral, upstanding, well-adjusted individual than it is to attempt to hide a dysfunctional dark side. Ultimately, a bit of restraint, discretion and even therapy will be much cheaper than living a double life.
John Sileo speaks, writes and consults professionally on information leadership: managing the exposure of personal and corporate information. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Homeland Security and Blue Cross. Learn more at www.ThinkLikeASpy.com or contact him directly on 1.800.258.8076. Expose yourself wisely.
How should my business balance the risks of social media with the rewards of this increasingly dominant and highly profitable marketing medium? That’s the very insightful question that a CEO asked me during a presentation I gave on information leadership for a Vistage CEO conference.
Think of your move into social media (Facebook/Fan/Business Pages, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) like you would approach the task of helping your fifteen-year-old daughter prepare to drive on her own. You love her more than anything on earth and would do anything for her (just like you will go to great lengths grow your business), but that doesn’t mean you just hand her the keys. Trying to forbid or ignore the movement into social marketing is like telling your teen that they can’t get their license. It isn’t going to happen, so you might consider putting down the denial and controlling those pieces of change that are within your power. The task is to maximize the positives of her newly bestowed freedom while minimizing any negatives; the same is true in social media.
Direct messages sent through Twitter can be easily exposed, thanks to a loophole in Twitter’s API, according to Gary-Adam Shannon at Search Engine Watch Reports. When a user logs into another site using their Twitter user name and password, the site can gain access to the private messages, says Shannon. He goes into technical detail, but essentially it’s just a small hack.
Shannon recommends you don’t ever log in to a site (other than Twitter.com, obviously) using your Twitter user name and password. Another writer at Search Engine Watch recommends that users erase their Direct Messages after viewing them. There has been no comment from Twitter, but we hope they are looking into the issue now that the problem has been made public.
What began in early 2009 as a free ‘information network’ that offers users the ability to microblog may have already reached the top. A new CNN article discusses how the number of Twitter users has flattened out and even deccreased recently. In July 2009, the site had 21.2 million users which dropped to 19.9 users only 5 months later in December.
Some believe this slump is due to Twitter’s inability to keep up with its users and others are finding the site less and less useful. Perhaps people are less inclined to put so much personal information on the World Wide Web, knowing that everything you post is public, permanent and exploitable. Or maybe we’re just tired of seeing how boring the average person’s day is.