Social media is risky by nature; it’s a platform where information about you and your life is stored and shared. If you choose to use social media, follow information security best practices to mitigate your risk.

Remember that social media companies collect data about you

This data is based on the information you provide when you set up your account and your behavior on the platform. While this data may only be used internally for things like ad targeting, ask yourself if you’re comfortable with being tracked this way. Research what a social media company does with your information before setting up an account.

Set up multi-factor authentication and sign-in alerts when possible

This will help protect your account from unauthorized access.

Limit what you share

Make sure that any personal information like your date of birth or email address is visible only to you.

Limit the size of your social network

Make sure you actually know everyone in your immediate network. If possible, enable settings that require you to approve new followers so you can keep better track of who you’re sharing with. Keep in mind that it’s fairly easy to impersonate someone online, and take the time to check in with new friends and followers to make sure they truly are who they say they are.

Check your sharing settings

Make sure that people outside of your network see the least possible amount of data and double-check what your secondary connections (friends of friends) can see.

Remain vigilant against scams

If one of your connection’s accounts is compromised, their account may be used to share  malicious links or solicit money or personal information. If a message or post seems odd or out of character, reach out to your connection via phone or email to double check.

Be careful not to share more than you intend

It’s easy for malicious persons to figure out personal information by making connections between things posted separately. For example, if you share your birth month and day and also share your high school class year, your full date of birth is fairly easy to guess.  Don’t post things like your class or work schedule, and be mindful of post patterns that inadvertently reveal your daily or weekly routine.

Double-check your photos

Don’t post photos of things like ID cards, licenses, or keys. It’s possible to make duplicates of a physical key from a photo, and the information on your cards is sensitive. Make sure any photo you post does not include the exact location, especially if you are still there or visit that place regularly. Remember that others may download or screenshot your photo and have access to it even if you delete it later.

Finally, a good way to double-check your social media is by looking at it through the eyes of a bad actor. Are you able to determine any of your own personal information based on the content of your social media? Can you figure out where you live or work, or any part of your normal routine? Is your telephone number or email address publicly visible? Ask yourself questions like this regularly, and remove anything compromising.

Consider researching social media security best practices further to get a better idea of potential dangers and help you make the best choices for yourself.

Information Technology Services
Davis Family Library 202
Middlebury, VT 05753