Social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, have exploded in popularity among Americans in recent years. According to Facebook, over 845 million users log on to its site at least once a month. Over 425 million people use Facebook’s mobile products.
Although social networking sites can be valuable resources to connect with friends and acquaintances online, it is important to remember to be careful when using them because the information you post online can be used to make you a victim.
- Be sure to set your privacy settings to the most secure setting available. Ensure that you are sharing information with only your friends, and not with the Internet at large.
- First and foremost, make a unique password for each social media site you use. If an unauthorized individual accesses your account, they can use it to send spam to other users, scam your friends and family, or use the information they obtain to scam you.
- If you do have your profile viewable by the public, do not post information that would let someone know that your house was empty or that you are home alone. Posting that you are leaving town for a few days could be an invitation for someone to break into your home. Likewise, if you have children or roommates who use these sites, make sure they are aware that they should never indicate online that they are home alone.
- Think carefully about what information you post online. An electronic record of what you say will likely be online forever, which might come back to haunt you in the future. Follow the “Front Page Rule.” Do not post anything online that you would not be comfortable seeing on the front page of your newspaper. Remember that employers, universities and even attorneys often check Facebook and other social media sites for information that you have posted online.