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Category: Social Media Safety

Breaking Down Cyberbullying and Its Prevention

Cyberbullying Prevention

Before the world went online, children worried about being bullied at school, on the playground, or in the park. However, today’s bullies have access to mobile phones, computers, gaming consoles, and other technology. This has led to the rise of cyberbullying, and this type of digital abuse can have far-reaching, devastating consequences.

Let’s take a closer look at it and how to prevent it from happening.

Tactics Of Cyberbullies

People who haven’t experienced cyberbullying might think it begins and ends with mean comments on the victim’s Facebook profile or nasty text messages. Those are a couple of tactics used by cyberbullies, but there are many more.

These are the most common ways in which bullies attack people online:

  • Posting hateful, nasty comments about someone’s body, ethnicity, gender, religion, race, socio-economic background, or other characteristics online
  • Posting embarrassing or hurtful comments about them online
  • Posting or sending them threats of violence
  • Posting comments or sending messages telling them to kill themselves
  • Posting humiliating or mean photos or videos of or directed at the victim
  • Creating a nasty fake profile, blog, or webpage about someone
  • Creating fake profiles to gain personal information about the victim and then posting or sharing that information
  • Creating fake profiles to spread false information about the victim
  • Doxing victims by posting personal information such as their full name, contact details, home address, credit card number, social security, and more

As you can see from these tactics, cyberbullies use electronic devices such as mobile phones to harass, mock, or threaten people intentionally and repeatedly. Victims will agree that the effects can be as hurtful and damaging as face-to-face bullying on the playground, office environment, or anywhere else.

Cyberbullying – The Characteristics

Cyberbullying differs from bullying that happens in person, and the tactics that cyberbullies use have certain characteristics.

These are a few of those characteristics:

Anonymity – Cyberbullying often is anonymous. Bullies hide behind fake profiles, which makes it more challenging to put a stop to them. Not knowing who is behind the abusive behavior can also make it more terrifying for victims.

Difficult to detect – It’s easier for parents to detect physical bullying. For example, mom or dad would notice if Johnny or Bailey came home from school with a black eye or a ripped shirt. It’s far more difficult to detect that a child is receiving threats online if they don’t say anything about it to their parents.

Cyberbullying is ongoing – The persistence of this type of harassment is a major factor. Rather than being limited to school hours, bullies can use their phones or other devices to attack or harass victims at any time of the day or night.

Attacks can be permanent – If others share posts made by cyberbullies, or if online content goes undeleted, their attacks can be permanent. Some social media platforms may delete abusive content if reported, but it can be impossible to track everything shared. Once something has been posted online, it’s difficult to delete it completely.

Cyberbullying can be far-reaching – Due to the nature of the internet and social media platforms, cyberbullying has a much bigger audience than bullying that happens face-to-face. Nasty posts made about someone online can reach thousands of people around the world in a few minutes.

Cyberbullying Has Serious Effects

According to UNICEF, victims of cyberbullying often feel as though there is no escape. Whether they are at home, school, or anywhere else, they know that the bully can strike at any moment. The constant threat of attack can have serious consequences.

Cyberbullying can cause stress-related physical problems such as tension headaches, stomach aches or stomach upsets, and sleep loss. It can also have an emotional impact by making the victims feel ashamed about the things they enjoy. And it can cause mental anguish by making victims feel angry, embarrassed, stupid, or upset.

Some victims of cyberbullying have been made to feel so ashamed, embarrassed, and upset that they’ve never spoken out. Of course, the bullying did not stop. It got so bad that the victims took their own lives in some situations because they could not deal with it any longer.

Parents and children need to understand that, as terrible as cyberbullying can be, it’s not the end of the road for the victim. They can regain their peace of mind and confidence again. This takes time and possibly counseling, but recovery is possible.

Cyberbullying Prevention Tips For Young People

Arguments between people happen from time to time, and they’re normal. However, if someone is repeatedly nasty to you for no fault of your own, it’s bullying. Don’t blame yourself for it, because no one deserves to be bullied.

Save the evidence of bullying. Whether the cyberbully sends text messages, posts on Facebook, or leaves nasty comments on Instagram, save the messages, download the videos, or take screenshots of the posts. Evidence may help authorities take action if you have to proceed with a bullying lawsuit to end the harassment.

Do not retaliate. Your upset or angry response may add fuel to the fire. If bullies know they’re getting to you, they’re likely to continue. If you know the bully’s identity, don’t retaliate in vengeance because that will turn you into a bully too. Instead, save the evidence and seek help.

Tell someone you trust. Even if it seems difficult or embarrassing, telling a parent, relative, friend, or teacher what’s happening can be one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Cyberbullying Prevention Tips For Parents

Follow or befriend your child on social media. This way, you can keep an eye on what they’re doing and what others are saying in response to them.

Educate your child. Tell them about not accepting friend requests from strangers, and warn against posting personal information and compromising photos online.

Be proactive. If you see cyberbullying taking place, report the posts – even if your child is not the victim.

Cyberbullying is one of the downsides of the digital age. Victims need all the support they can get, while bullies need to learn that good people will not accept their vile behavior.

Meta Title: A Look At Cyberbullying And Prevention Tips | Safe Search Kids

Meta Description: Cyberbullying is a horrible reality of the digital age. Take a closer look at its tactics and characteristics, and at tips that can help prevent it.

Before the world went online, children worried about being bullied at school, on the playground, or in the park. However, today’s bullies have access to mobile phones, computers, gaming consoles, and other technology. This has led to the rise of cyberbullying, and this type of digital abuse can have far-reaching, devastating consequences.

Let’s take a closer look at it and how to prevent it from happening.

Tactics Of Cyberbullies

People who haven’t experienced cyberbullying might think it begins and ends with mean comments on the victim’s Facebook profile or nasty text messages. Those are a couple of tactics used by cyberbullies, but there are many more.

These are the most common ways in which bullies attack people online:

  • Posting hateful, nasty comments about someone’s body, ethnicity, gender, religion, race, socio-economic background, or other characteristics online
  • Posting embarrassing or hurtful comments about them online
  • Posting or sending them threats of violence
  • Posting comments or sending messages telling them to kill themselves
  • Posting humiliating or mean photos or videos of or directed at the victim
  • Creating a nasty fake profile, blog, or webpage about someone
  • Creating fake profiles to gain personal information about the victim and then posting or sharing that information
  • Creating fake profiles to spread false information about the victim
  • Doxing victims by posting personal information such as their full name, contact details, home address, credit card number, social security, and more

As you can see from these tactics, cyberbullies use electronic devices such as mobile phones to harass, mock, or threaten people intentionally and repeatedly. Victims will agree that the effects can be as hurtful and damaging as face-to-face bullying on the playground, office environment, or anywhere else.

Cyberbullying – The Characteristics

Cyberbullying differs from bullying that happens in person, and the tactics that cyberbullies use have certain characteristics.

These are a few of those characteristics:

Anonymity – Cyberbullying often is anonymous. Bullies hide behind fake profiles, which makes it more challenging to put a stop to them. Not knowing who is behind the abusive behavior can also make it more terrifying for victims.

Difficult to detect – It’s easier for parents to detect physical bullying. For example, mom or dad would notice if Johnny or Bailey came home from school with a black eye or a ripped shirt. It’s far more difficult to detect that a child is receiving threats online if they don’t say anything about it to their parents.

Cyberbullying is ongoing – The persistence of this type of harassment is a major factor. Rather than being limited to school hours, bullies can use their phones or other devices to attack or harass victims at any time of the day or night.

Attacks can be permanent – If others share posts made by cyberbullies, or if online content goes undeleted, their attacks can be permanent. Some social media platforms may delete abusive content if reported, but it can be impossible to track everything shared. Once something has been posted online, it’s difficult to delete it completely.

Cyberbullying can be far-reaching – Due to the nature of the internet and social media platforms, cyberbullying has a much bigger audience than bullying that happens face-to-face. Nasty posts made about someone online can reach thousands of people around the world in a few minutes.

Cyberbullying Has Serious Effects

According to UNICEF, victims of cyberbullying often feel as though there is no escape. Whether they are at home, school, or anywhere else, they know that the bully can strike at any moment. The constant threat of attack can have serious consequences.

Cyberbullying can cause stress-related physical problems such as tension headaches, stomach aches or stomach upsets, and sleep loss. It can also have an emotional impact by making the victims feel ashamed about the things they enjoy. And it can cause mental anguish by making victims feel angry, embarrassed, stupid, or upset.

Some victims of cyberbullying have been made to feel so ashamed, embarrassed, and upset that they’ve never spoken out. Of course, the bullying did not stop. It got so bad that the victims took their own lives in some situations because they could not deal with it any longer.

Parents and children need to understand that, as terrible as cyberbullying can be, it’s not the end of the road for the victim. They can regain their peace of mind and confidence again. This takes time and possibly counseling, but recovery is possible.

Cyberbullying Prevention Tips For Young People

Arguments between people happen from time to time, and they’re normal. However, if someone is repeatedly nasty to you for no fault of your own, it’s bullying. Don’t blame yourself for it, because no one deserves to be bullied.

Save the evidence of bullying. Whether the cyberbully sends text messages, posts on Facebook, or leaves nasty comments on Instagram, save the messages, download the videos, or take screenshots of the posts. Evidence may help authorities take action if you have to proceed with a bullying lawsuit to end the harassment.

Do not retaliate. Your upset or angry response may add fuel to the fire. If bullies know they’re getting to you, they’re likely to continue. If you know the bully’s identity, don’t retaliate in vengeance because that will turn you into a bully too. Instead, save the evidence and seek help.

Tell someone you trust. Even if it seems difficult or embarrassing, telling a parent, relative, friend, or teacher what’s happening can be one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Cyberbullying Prevention Tips For Parents

Follow or befriend your child on social media. This way, you can keep an eye on what they’re doing and what others are saying in response to them.

Educate your child. Tell them about not accepting friend requests from strangers, and warn against posting personal information and compromising photos online.

Be proactive. If you see cyberbullying taking place, report the posts – even if your child is not the victim.

Cyberbullying is one of the downsides of the digital age. Victims need all the support they can get, while bullies need to learn that good people will not accept their vile behavior.

Meta Title: A Look At Cyberbullying And Prevention Tips | Safe Search Kids

Meta Description: Cyberbullying is a horrible reality of the digital age. Take a closer look at its tactics and characteristics, and at tips that can help prevent it.

When Friends are Upset on Social Media

Jill knows that Ringo — her fluffy spotted puppy — can understand her. Whenever she’s on her phone, Ringo sits politely at her feet and stares at her with round, brown eyes. Today, Jill read her social media posts to him. “Look,” she said, “Zazza is mad at Sam because he got into the school band and she didn’t”.

Jill continued. “Zazza said Sam got in because he gave the teacher a flower before auditions. They’re both my friends and I don’t know what to say.”

Ringo cocked his head and sniffed at the phone.

Jill sighed. “I know what you mean, Ringo. They’re both my friends. If I post something that makes Zazza feel good, it will make Sam mad. If I post something that makes Sam happy, Zazza will be upset. What should I do?”

Ringo flattened on the floor and covered his ears with his fuzzy white paws.

Jill crossed her arms.  “You really think I should just stay out of it?”

Ringo sat up and panted.

“You’re right. Zazza is hurt right now, but she does so much, she’ll forget about it in a few days. Maybe I should wait ‘til I see her in person and tell her I’m sorry she didn’t get on the band.”

Ringo’s tail started sweeping the floor.

“You like that idea? That way, Zazza will l know I care and I won’t make Sam mad. After all, he’s my friend, too.”

Ringo let his long tongue flop out of the side of his mouth. Then he gave a deep, strong, “Woof.”

Jill nodded. “You’re smart. If I post something online, it will look like I’m taking sides between two people I like. If I talk to them in person, I’ll be a real friend instead of just someone who on comments online.”

Ringo panted happily. He liked people when they talked to each other in person. Being a dog, he knew that real friends share real time in the real world.

Online friends can’t throw sticks for you. They can’t sneak you a pizza crust when parents aren’t looking. Online friends can’t scratch your ears or take you for a walk. They can’t hug you or fill your water bowl. That’s why Ringo knows that what happens online is only part of being a friend. Being a real friend means being supportive in the real world and being kind in the real world.

Jill got off social media and phoned Sam. She congratulated him for getting on the band. Then she called Zazza and invited her over for pizza night.

That’s when Jill’s phone beeped. She looked at the message. “This is your Mom. Didn’t you forget something else in the real world?”

Jill smiled and tossed down her phone. “Hey, Mom,” she yelled into the kitchen. “Is it okay if Zazza comes over for pizza?”

Jill knows that Ringo — her fluffy spotted puppy — can understand her. Whenever she’s on her phone, Ringo sits politely at her feet and stares at her with round, brown eyes. Today, Jill read her social media posts to him. “Look,” she said, “Zazza is mad at Sam because he got into the school band and she didn’t”.

Jill continued. “Zazza said Sam got in because he gave the teacher a flower before auditions. They’re both my friends and I don’t know what to say.”

Ringo cocked his head and sniffed at the phone.

Jill sighed. “I know what you mean, Ringo. They’re both my friends. If I post something that makes Zazza feel good, it will make Sam mad. If I post something that makes Sam happy, Zazza will be upset. What should I do?”

Ringo flattened on the floor and covered his ears with his fuzzy white paws.

Jill crossed her arms.  “You really think I should just stay out of it?”

Ringo sat up and panted.

“You’re right. Zazza is hurt right now, but she does so much, she’ll forget about it in a few days. Maybe I should wait ‘til I see her in person and tell her I’m sorry she didn’t get on the band.”

Ringo’s tail started sweeping the floor.

“You like that idea? That way, Zazza will l know I care and I won’t make Sam mad. After all, he’s my friend, too.”

Ringo let his long tongue flop out of the side of his mouth. Then he gave a deep, strong, “Woof.”

Jill nodded. “You’re smart. If I post something online, it will look like I’m taking sides between two people I like. If I talk to them in person, I’ll be a real friend instead of just someone who on comments online.”

Ringo panted happily. He liked people when they talked to each other in person. Being a dog, he knew that real friends share real time in the real world.

Online friends can’t throw sticks for you. They can’t sneak you a pizza crust when parents aren’t looking. Online friends can’t scratch your ears or take you for a walk. They can’t hug you or fill your water bowl. That’s why Ringo knows that what happens online is only part of being a friend. Being a real friend means being supportive in the real world and being kind in the real world.

Jill got off social media and phoned Sam. She congratulated him for getting on the band. Then she called Zazza and invited her over for pizza night.

That’s when Jill’s phone beeped. She looked at the message. “This is your Mom. Didn’t you forget something else in the real world?”

Jill smiled and tossed down her phone. “Hey, Mom,” she yelled into the kitchen. “Is it okay if Zazza comes over for pizza?”

Social Media Safety Considerations for Parents

sharanting-kids-permisson-post-pics

There are many blogs, posts and studies about the impact of social media on teenagers and young children. It’s been proven time and time again that social media use among children can be harmful to their emotional and mental health.

However, these posts often ignore another social media phenomenon that can be harmful: sharenting, or the practice of parents sharing their children’s information, photos and videos online.

Sharenting specifically refers to parents of school-aged children, who share photos or videos of their children on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Though it can be tempting to share fun photos of your kids, there are many safety considerations to think about before hitting send.

Risks of Sharenting

Many kids have a social media presence before they are old enough to be aware of social media at all. Before deciding to post their child on social media, parents should consider the potential risks that come with doing so.

1.     Safety

The Internet is a big — and sometimes dangerous — place. Even when parents have privacy settings or safety measures in place, there isn’t always a guarantee that photos and data are truly private. Posting a child’s photo can pose a potential risk to their privacy and safety, and create a cyber footprint for the child before they are old enough to have an online presence.

2.     Bullying

School can be a hard place for kids, who may at some point experience bullying. Posting photos or videos of children online, especially ones that are potentially embarrassing, can feed these bullies in school or in the community. Posting a child’s image online opens them up to judgement from strangers and friends alike.

3.     Embarrassment

Everyone knows the embarrassment of being tagged in a photo they don’t like — the same philosophy applies to posting photos or videos of children. Though you might think your child looks cute with food all over their face or doing a silly dance, they might be embarrassed to see that content online. It’s a best practice to ask your child whether they consent to having the image posted before uploading it.

In a recent survey conducted by Bestow, however, the majority of Americans didn’t think it was necessary to ask children for permission before posting their photo. In reality, asking permission before posting is a good practice to ensure the child feels supported and avoids feelings of embarrassment or shame.

4.     Permanence

The old adage that nothing posted on the Internet is ever fully deleted rings true. Though bath time photos or silly pictures of food-splattered faces may be cute in the moment, it’s worth considering that these images could potentially follow your child throughout their life.

Best Practices for Parents Online

Of course, parents will sometimes want to post pictures of their children to brag or celebrate. There are certain ways to do so safely.

5.     Avoid Posting Location or Other Private Details

If you’re posting a photo of your child — especially on public platforms — it’s best to avoid including private details that could possibly lead strangers or predators to your location. Don’t include geotags or identifying buildings, street signs or landmarks that could identify where you live.

6.     Ask Your Child What They Think

If you’re unsure whether your child will approve of a photo or video you want to post of them, just ask! Avoid potentially embarrassing or upsetting your child by getting their permission to post them on your social media. This will make your child feel more supported and independent while also helping them curate their own online footprint.

7.     Consider the Future

Before hitting send, remember that you’re posting something that could potentially follow your child throughout their lives. Avoid posting nude, inappropriate or embarrassing content that your child may be embarrassed about when they grow up.

There are many blogs, posts and studies about the impact of social media on teenagers and young children. It’s been proven time and time again that social media use among children can be harmful to their emotional and mental health.

However, these posts often ignore another social media phenomenon that can be harmful: sharenting, or the practice of parents sharing their children’s information, photos and videos online.

Sharenting specifically refers to parents of school-aged children, who share photos or videos of their children on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Though it can be tempting to share fun photos of your kids, there are many safety considerations to think about before hitting send.

Risks of Sharenting

Many kids have a social media presence before they are old enough to be aware of social media at all. Before deciding to post their child on social media, parents should consider the potential risks that come with doing so.

1.     Safety

The Internet is a big — and sometimes dangerous — place. Even when parents have privacy settings or safety measures in place, there isn’t always a guarantee that photos and data are truly private. Posting a child’s photo can pose a potential risk to their privacy and safety, and create a cyber footprint for the child before they are old enough to have an online presence.

2.     Bullying

School can be a hard place for kids, who may at some point experience bullying. Posting photos or videos of children online, especially ones that are potentially embarrassing, can feed these bullies in school or in the community. Posting a child’s image online opens them up to judgement from strangers and friends alike.

3.     Embarrassment

Everyone knows the embarrassment of being tagged in a photo they don’t like — the same philosophy applies to posting photos or videos of children. Though you might think your child looks cute with food all over their face or doing a silly dance, they might be embarrassed to see that content online. It’s a best practice to ask your child whether they consent to having the image posted before uploading it.

In a recent survey conducted by Bestow, however, the majority of Americans didn’t think it was necessary to ask children for permission before posting their photo. In reality, asking permission before posting is a good practice to ensure the child feels supported and avoids feelings of embarrassment or shame.

4.     Permanence

The old adage that nothing posted on the Internet is ever fully deleted rings true. Though bath time photos or silly pictures of food-splattered faces may be cute in the moment, it’s worth considering that these images could potentially follow your child throughout their life.

Best Practices for Parents Online

Of course, parents will sometimes want to post pictures of their children to brag or celebrate. There are certain ways to do so safely.

5.     Avoid Posting Location or Other Private Details

If you’re posting a photo of your child — especially on public platforms — it’s best to avoid including private details that could possibly lead strangers or predators to your location. Don’t include geotags or identifying buildings, street signs or landmarks that could identify where you live.

6.     Ask Your Child What They Think

If you’re unsure whether your child will approve of a photo or video you want to post of them, just ask! Avoid potentially embarrassing or upsetting your child by getting their permission to post them on your social media. This will make your child feel more supported and independent while also helping them curate their own online footprint.

7.     Consider the Future

Before hitting send, remember that you’re posting something that could potentially follow your child throughout their lives. Avoid posting nude, inappropriate or embarrassing content that your child may be embarrassed about when they grow up.

How to Keep Your Personal Data Private on Social Media

Keeping Data Private on Social Media

These days, if you want to find out about someone, all you need to do is go on to Facebook and search for his or her name. With a bit of extra information, you’ll be able to know that person’s address, birthday, relatives, educational background, work experiences, previous travels, and even what he or she ate this morning.

You don’t need a private investigator these days—all you need is social media. It’s one of the reasons why Internet privacy is a hot potato right now. After Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and the implementation of EU’s GDPR initiative, concerns about internet privacy have skyrocketed. The fact that people spend an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes every day on social media has only highlighted the need for keeping the user’s data private on social media.

What type of information is shared on social media?

Your profile

Most social media platforms allow their users to create online profiles that are very detailed and complete.  Although these details are not required, a lot of users feel the need to complete their profile to make it easier for their friends and acquaintances to easily identify their account. Some of the profile information gathered includes gender, age, family information, interests, address, phone number, educational background, and employment.

Your status updates.

Social networks usually allow users to their status updates to be able to communicate with friends quickly. Although you can choose to restrict access to your status updates, however, it is still visible to Google and other search engines.

Your location. 

Social media networks are designed to broadcast your actual location, either as part of your profile or as an update available to authorized contacts only. When you check in to a local business or attend a local event, you are sharing your current location with other people.

Your shared content.

Social media is all about sharing content about you, about what you do, and about the people around you. Photos, music, videos, and links are some of the common types of content shared on social media.

All the information that you share on social media reveals information about you, including contextual data that you might not even be aware of. By sharing them online, you are providing enough information for advertisers to track you or the government to monitor your activities.

How Is Your Information Used?

The data that you share on social media, whether publicly or through authorized contacts only, can be used by different entities for their own purposes. For example, an advertiser could aggregate your publicly available information, along with your browsing history, to perform targeted advertising. If you’ve seen a lot of sponsored ads on your Newsfeed related to the items you searched or purchased on Marketplace, then that’s part of their behavioral advertising campaigns.

Third-party applications, such as games, quizzes, polls, and other apps, that you grant access to your profile might be getting more information than you realize. This is actually how the British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, got access to millions of Facebook profiles and influenced public opinion.

Government agencies and law enforcement officers can also monitor your social media networks for valuable information regarding an investigation. Social media has become a vital part of law enforcement investigation because of the abundance of information that can be gleaned from the user’s account. Authorities can also work with the social media platform to get detailed information that is not available to the public.

And for those applying for employment, most recruiters now include looking into the applicant’s social media profiles when doing a background check.

How to Protect Your Privacy on Social Media

How do you keep your data safe on social media? The bad news is that there is always a risk that your information might fall into the wrong hands as long as you use social media. It’s because when you use social media, you’re automatically sharing something to the public.

And let’s admit it: it’s hard to imagine living without social media, especially for people with family members away from home. The good news is that there are some ways to help protect your privacy and mitigate the risk while using social media.

Delete accounts that you don’t need.

The #DeleteFacebook movement is a good example of people going to great lengths to protect their data. This might be a good idea if you are living with your family and don’t need to use it to communicate with other people. Or if you have several Facebook accounts you previously created for some reason. If you find yourself not using a social media account, it would be better to shut down your account and delete the application from your devices to cut off any chances of inadvertent data sharing. You might not be aware of it, but social media apps can theoretically access information and data on your device.

Limit the number of social media networks that you use and don’t create new accounts just to gain more coins for your games or to stalk someone on social media.

Limit your friends.

You’re not obliged to accept everyone who sends you a friend request. You might argue that social media was meant for making friends and connecting with people, but it is not advisable to connect with total strangers. Keep in mind that your list of friends will have access to information that you don’t normally want the public to know, so make sure you know your friends. Don’t hesitate to reject connection or friend requests from users you don’t know or have dodgy profiles. Review your friends list regularly and unfriend those who you don’t know.

Change your privacy settings.

Most social media networks provide users with the option to change their privacy settings and manage the way their information is seen. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have made it easier to decide who can see your posts and who can follow you. You can look around your social media account and look for the Privacy settings.

Facebook, for example, allows you to control who sees your profile and timeline, who can see your email and other contact information, who can tag you on posts, who can send you messages and friend requests, and other information. Other social media platforms also have this option, all you need to do is dig around the platform’s settings. And make sure to check your privacy settings regularly too, because sometimes they get changed suddenly and mysteriously.

Be careful what you post online.

You don’t want people to use your own posts against you or ruin your reputation. If you don’t want something to be associated with you, then post it. Reckless posting can come back to haunt you when you least expect it. Never post anything that you don’t want other people to see. So before you publish your posts, double-check and triple-check.

Keep in mind that everything you publish online could easily be seen by your employers, family members, friends, professional contacts, and anyone else who can see your profile. And though you can always delete the unwanted posts later, you don’t know who has taken a screenshot of your unwanted post. The same goes for your conversations.

Don’t share everything about yourself.

Social media users like to use their real names, addresses, and other personal information to make it easier for friends to recognize them. Professionals, too, like to add their employment details on LinkedIn to build a good reputation and easily connect with other professionals in the industry. However, giving out these details make it very easy for cybercriminals to guess your other important information, such as your work email, to launch targeted phishing or online scams that seem credible. To be safe, don’t share all your information online so hackers will have lesser data to work with.

Don’t share family photos on your social media.

We know you love your kids, but you don’t need to post everything they do on social media. Cyber predators can grab photos of your children and stalk them on the internet. And since you put your address and your complete name on your profile, it is easier for these online predators to locate your house and probably put your kids in danger. Posting pictures of your children online makes them possible targets by sexual and other cyber predators.

Don’t use your social media profile to log into other websites.

These days, it is easier to create new accounts by simply using your social media profiles to log in. For example, you can use your Facebook or Twitter profile to log into other services. Instead of typing in your information, such as email address, password, name, and address, all you need to do is click the ‘Login with Facebook’ or ‘Sign up with Facebook’ option, then everything will be filled out for you.

However, sharing your data across different platforms is very dangerous because you’re pooling all of your data in one location. Once any of these platforms is breached, then all of the accounts associated with your Facebook profile will also be compromised.

So don’t be lazy when creating profiles. Take a few minutes to set up your account using the signup form instead of relying on the ‘Sign up with Facebook’ function.

Use a VPN.

A VPN may not help hide what you post online, but it can help secure your personal data and other sensitive information. You can also use a VPN to create anonymous accounts since it can hide your IP address and actual location. Plus, VPN does not only protect your social media activities but all your online activities as a whole.

Wrapping Up

With the COVID-19 pandemic making social media a very important tool for communication, it is becoming harder to stay private and keep your personal information safe. Hopefully, the tips above can help you protect your privacy online while enjoying the benefits of social media.

These days, if you want to find out about someone, all you need to do is go on to Facebook and search for his or her name. With a bit of extra information, you’ll be able to know that person’s address, birthday, relatives, educational background, work experiences, previous travels, and even what he or she ate this morning.

You don’t need a private investigator these days—all you need is social media. It’s one of the reasons why Internet privacy is a hot potato right now. After Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and the implementation of EU’s GDPR initiative, concerns about internet privacy have skyrocketed. The fact that people spend an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes every day on social media has only highlighted the need for keeping the user’s data private on social media.

What type of information is shared on social media?

Your profile

Most social media platforms allow their users to create online profiles that are very detailed and complete.  Although these details are not required, a lot of users feel the need to complete their profile to make it easier for their friends and acquaintances to easily identify their account. Some of the profile information gathered includes gender, age, family information, interests, address, phone number, educational background, and employment.

Your status updates.

Social networks usually allow users to their status updates to be able to communicate with friends quickly. Although you can choose to restrict access to your status updates, however, it is still visible to Google and other search engines.

Your location. 

Social media networks are designed to broadcast your actual location, either as part of your profile or as an update available to authorized contacts only. When you check in to a local business or attend a local event, you are sharing your current location with other people.

Your shared content.

Social media is all about sharing content about you, about what you do, and about the people around you. Photos, music, videos, and links are some of the common types of content shared on social media.

All the information that you share on social media reveals information about you, including contextual data that you might not even be aware of. By sharing them online, you are providing enough information for advertisers to track you or the government to monitor your activities.

How Is Your Information Used?

The data that you share on social media, whether publicly or through authorized contacts only, can be used by different entities for their own purposes. For example, an advertiser could aggregate your publicly available information, along with your browsing history, to perform targeted advertising. If you’ve seen a lot of sponsored ads on your Newsfeed related to the items you searched or purchased on Marketplace, then that’s part of their behavioral advertising campaigns.

Third-party applications, such as games, quizzes, polls, and other apps, that you grant access to your profile might be getting more information than you realize. This is actually how the British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, got access to millions of Facebook profiles and influenced public opinion.

Government agencies and law enforcement officers can also monitor your social media networks for valuable information regarding an investigation. Social media has become a vital part of law enforcement investigation because of the abundance of information that can be gleaned from the user’s account. Authorities can also work with the social media platform to get detailed information that is not available to the public.

And for those applying for employment, most recruiters now include looking into the applicant’s social media profiles when doing a background check.

How to Protect Your Privacy on Social Media

How do you keep your data safe on social media? The bad news is that there is always a risk that your information might fall into the wrong hands as long as you use social media. It’s because when you use social media, you’re automatically sharing something to the public.

And let’s admit it: it’s hard to imagine living without social media, especially for people with family members away from home. The good news is that there are some ways to help protect your privacy and mitigate the risk while using social media.

Delete accounts that you don’t need.

The #DeleteFacebook movement is a good example of people going to great lengths to protect their data. This might be a good idea if you are living with your family and don’t need to use it to communicate with other people. Or if you have several Facebook accounts you previously created for some reason. If you find yourself not using a social media account, it would be better to shut down your account and delete the application from your devices to cut off any chances of inadvertent data sharing. You might not be aware of it, but social media apps can theoretically access information and data on your device.

Limit the number of social media networks that you use and don’t create new accounts just to gain more coins for your games or to stalk someone on social media.

Limit your friends.

You’re not obliged to accept everyone who sends you a friend request. You might argue that social media was meant for making friends and connecting with people, but it is not advisable to connect with total strangers. Keep in mind that your list of friends will have access to information that you don’t normally want the public to know, so make sure you know your friends. Don’t hesitate to reject connection or friend requests from users you don’t know or have dodgy profiles. Review your friends list regularly and unfriend those who you don’t know.

Change your privacy settings.

Most social media networks provide users with the option to change their privacy settings and manage the way their information is seen. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have made it easier to decide who can see your posts and who can follow you. You can look around your social media account and look for the Privacy settings.

Facebook, for example, allows you to control who sees your profile and timeline, who can see your email and other contact information, who can tag you on posts, who can send you messages and friend requests, and other information. Other social media platforms also have this option, all you need to do is dig around the platform’s settings. And make sure to check your privacy settings regularly too, because sometimes they get changed suddenly and mysteriously.

Be careful what you post online.

You don’t want people to use your own posts against you or ruin your reputation. If you don’t want something to be associated with you, then post it. Reckless posting can come back to haunt you when you least expect it. Never post anything that you don’t want other people to see. So before you publish your posts, double-check and triple-check.

Keep in mind that everything you publish online could easily be seen by your employers, family members, friends, professional contacts, and anyone else who can see your profile. And though you can always delete the unwanted posts later, you don’t know who has taken a screenshot of your unwanted post. The same goes for your conversations.

Don’t share everything about yourself.

Social media users like to use their real names, addresses, and other personal information to make it easier for friends to recognize them. Professionals, too, like to add their employment details on LinkedIn to build a good reputation and easily connect with other professionals in the industry. However, giving out these details make it very easy for cybercriminals to guess your other important information, such as your work email, to launch targeted phishing or online scams that seem credible. To be safe, don’t share all your information online so hackers will have lesser data to work with.

Don’t share family photos on your social media.

We know you love your kids, but you don’t need to post everything they do on social media. Cyber predators can grab photos of your children and stalk them on the internet. And since you put your address and your complete name on your profile, it is easier for these online predators to locate your house and probably put your kids in danger. Posting pictures of your children online makes them possible targets by sexual and other cyber predators.

Don’t use your social media profile to log into other websites.

These days, it is easier to create new accounts by simply using your social media profiles to log in. For example, you can use your Facebook or Twitter profile to log into other services. Instead of typing in your information, such as email address, password, name, and address, all you need to do is click the ‘Login with Facebook’ or ‘Sign up with Facebook’ option, then everything will be filled out for you.

However, sharing your data across different platforms is very dangerous because you’re pooling all of your data in one location. Once any of these platforms is breached, then all of the accounts associated with your Facebook profile will also be compromised.

So don’t be lazy when creating profiles. Take a few minutes to set up your account using the signup form instead of relying on the ‘Sign up with Facebook’ function.

Use a VPN.

A VPN may not help hide what you post online, but it can help secure your personal data and other sensitive information. You can also use a VPN to create anonymous accounts since it can hide your IP address and actual location. Plus, VPN does not only protect your social media activities but all your online activities as a whole.

Wrapping Up

With the COVID-19 pandemic making social media a very important tool for communication, it is becoming harder to stay private and keep your personal information safe. Hopefully, the tips above can help you protect your privacy online while enjoying the benefits of social media.