Eight Tips to Stay Safe Using Social Media

Get the most out of your social networking by following these tips for a safe and secure online experience.
Older adult using computer with caption, "once posted, always posted."
Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn have become an integral part of our online lives. They are a great way to stay connected with others, but you should be wary about how much personal information you post.
Follow these eight tips from Microsoft and the National Cyber Security Alliance to safely enjoy social networking:
1. Privacy and security settings exist for a reason. Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way. Use these direct links for popular social services and devices to view or change your privacy settings.
2. Once posted, always posted. Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want a family member or employer to see. Never post comments that are abusive or offensive.
3. Keep personal info personal. Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking. When setting up your account, don’t provide information that is optional.
4. Know and manage your friends. Some of the fun of social networking is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. Use the available tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups. And be on guard against fake friend requests.
5. Be skeptical. Don’t believe everything you read online. Hackers can break into accounts and send messages that look like they’re from your friends, but aren’t. If you suspect that a message is fraudulent, use an alternate method to contact your friend to find out. Always try to verify the authenticity of information before taking any action.
6. Be careful about installing apps. Many social networking sites allow you to download third-party applications that let you do more with your personal page. Criminals sometimes use these applications to steal your personal information. To download and use third-party applications safely, take the same safety precautions that you take with any other program or file you download from the Web.
7. Be honest if you’re uncomfortable. If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, let them know. Likewise, stay open-minded if a friend approaches you because something you’ve posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them; respect those differences.
8. Know what action to take. If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site administrator.
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Social networks are a great way to stay connected with others, but you should be wary about how much personal information you post

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