Social Media Safety- Best Privacy Practices for Students

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As social media becomes a larger part of our lives, privacy is extremely important. Though it may seem like your personal information is completely private, there are additional steps to take to make sure your information is secure!

Colleges and Businesses Are Watching

As part of the applicant screening process, many colleges and potential employers are looking towards social media to judge your potential. A 2016 Kaplan survey found that 40% of college admissions officers admitted to visiting an applicant’s social media page to learn more about them.   

What Does Your Social Media Say About You?

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • Do your posts and comments represent the true you?
  • Do you showcase your achievements and hard work?
  • Are your posts appropriate?
  • Are your friends or followers posting appropriate material?

The photos and comments you and your followers post reflect on your character! Remember to be professional and consider who may be looking at your social media profiles.

Clean It Up

 

Before you go blocking all your pages, consider cleaning it up. A positive online presence is a good thing! Our CEO shares these quick and easy 5 Tips for Students to Build a Clean Online Presence in a recent interview with Safe Smart Social.

Websites such as GoEnnounce and LinkedIn allow you to build a positive, school-based or professional online presence. Companies like Social Assurity offer tips to find out what colleges can see about you.

Privacy Settings: Who Can See You?

We have all checked “Agree” without actually reading the Terms and Conditions or the Privacy Policy of a website. Privacy policies could include disclaimers about copyright and other important information regarding the material you post. These policies are constantly being revised so it is important to be aware of changes.

How to Share Safely

If you’re going to post publicly, be sure to do it in a way you are protected. For example, let’s say you’re working to improve your postive digital footprint and want to share an academic, extracurricular or professional achievement you are proud of.  You can do this publicly on GoEnnounce safely because GoEnnounce, prohibits private messaging and blocks phone numbers and locations from being shared.

Other sites do not do this.  Make sure to change your privacy settings from public to private if you do not want your information being accessed freely.  Facebook, for example, will only allow individuals to view your personal information if you are their friend. This prevents strangers from accessing your personal information. Remember to always read site privacy policies to make sure your information stays safe and secure.

What Location Settings Mean

Certain apps ask to use your location. Depending on what the app is, this can either be helpful or harmful. For GPS navigation and weather apps, it makes sense to use your exact location. When it comes to social media or photography apps, you should NEVER use your exact location. This will prevent other people from knowing your exact location or when you’re away from home. Only posting a photo of a vacation or at an event after you’ve returned home to prevent strangers from knowing your location at the time you are there.

Proceed with Caution

If you are required to enter your Social Security Number online (i.e., to open a PayPal account or fundraise on GoEnnounce), ask your parents first. Together double-check the validity of the site, and read the terms of use to see why this is necessary. If the site is secure, there should be a small lockbox in the URL bar.

Always be wary of entering your birthday online. Sure it’s fun to have your birthday on social media to get all of the birthday wishes from friends and companies. Also, sometimes various websites’ tools can guide you better when they know your age.  However, only enter your birthday if you’ve asked your parents and have a clear understanding of if it will be displayed and exactly what it’s being used for.

Never, Ever

  • Share social security numbers, bank account numbers, usernames, passwords, your address or your exact location, unless you’ve asked your parents and there is a clear purpose for this. This can contribute to danger, account hacking or identity theft.
  • Allow your birthday to be displayed publicly alongside other important identity information such as your name or address to enable someone to steal your identity.
  • Use the same password for everything.  Always make sure your passwords are strong, containing a mix of characters, numbers and symbols.

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