When it comes to recent examples of social media privacy issues, just take a quick look at the news – you’ll find something!
So what are the issues we face today, and how do we maintain social media privacy in a world of shared information?
From problems with security and data breaches, to serious consequences from users oversharing on social platforms, the relationship between privacy and social media can be strained – at best.
With people putting more and more of their lives online, privacy issues with social media is something that won’t be going away anytime soon.
We’ve been doing this for a while, and have come across plenty of social media privacy issues that plague many networks and their users. Admittedly there are a host of problems, but you can divide them into two categories:
One category comes from those who run the social network and the infrastructure of the network itself. And another set of issues come from the users themselves.
The social network and its leaders
In this case we’re talking about issues that come from the company that runs the network, as well as different vulnerabilities within the actual architecture of the site. These social media privacy issues are often part of the core fundamentals of a site, and the user cannot change them directly.
However, understanding what’s happening behind the scenes and how to mitigate risk on certain platforms will go a long way.
The number of people who have no idea how social networks operate when it comes to privacy is far too high. By becoming more aware of this aspect of the sites they use so frequently, many people would be able to adequately protect themselves from some common mistakes that come back to bite them.
Understanding the fine print
This is one of the most overlooked aspects when it comes to social media privacy. Most folks don’t want to take the time to read the user agreements because it’s boring or takes a little bit of time.
While we totally agree that reading this isn’t the most fun thing to do, it’s always a smart thing to do. Once you make it a habit it really only take a few minutes to get a high-level understanding of what’s going on, and if there’s something you don’t like.
In the case of larger social networking sites, a free account often comes at a price to the user. Depending on the rules outlined in the terms of service, users often sign away their privacy rights as soon as they click “agree”.
While user data is typically used in aggregate to improve services, there’s always the chance that the terms of service allow that company to sell or share your information to third parties for profit.
Other companies are willing to shell out a lot of money for these vast amounts of data for behavioral research and advertising benefits. The owners of the site determine what kinds of information to collect from users, and how to share it.
Additionally, the terms and conditions will often change, so it’s up to you to read these agreements and understand what exactly it is that you are agreeing to. This will help you find sites with social media privacy terms that you feel comfortable with.
When accepting a social network’s terms of service, you’re not only giving license to the company to track you and share insights about this as they please, but you’re also accepting any vulnerabilities within their system.
While this is by no means the intention of the network, third parties can expose different vulnerabilities within the software they use. This can mean anything from phishing scams, to contact hacks, or worse.
Additionally, when social networks allow third parties to design applications to work in tandem with these networks, there’s always a chance that the application is also vulnerable. This is a very common social media privacy issue especially on smaller networks that don’t have as many resources to stop this from happening.
This means whenever you download an app or choose to login using a social media account, make sure that you are downloading from a reliable source, and that you update it as new versions become available.
Protecting your privacy from…yourself
While data breaches are problematic, many social media privacy issues and missteps happen due to the volume and nature of what we’re posting on these networks. Making smart decisions about your privacy on social media whenever possible will limit the chances of a serious issue significantly.
While building a strong presence on social media platforms is a professional necessity in virtually all industries today, try to avoid the following:
A number of questions have been raised over the past few years when it comes to negotiating your excitement as a parent and the volume/nature of images and videos that you share of your children online.
This is without a doubt one of the most frequent social media privacy issues that we face today.
While parents posting images and videos of their children has become pretty normalized, it’s still important for parents to at least consider their children’s right to privacy (or even safety), when it comes to posting.
We are just starting to scratch the surface of the psychological effects that sharenting (parents who post and share all kinds of content about their children online) may have on children. However, there’s no doubt that this is a tricky area that requires some thought, particularly before children are able to voice their own opinions about their rights to privacy and what their parents share about them online.
Compromising your safety with overshares
When it comes to privacy issues with social media, never lose sight of your own personal safety. Even if you consistently err on the side of “private” when it comes to account settings, if we’ve learned anything from recent scandals, it’s that you shouldn’t publish or share anything that you want to remain private online.
Social media privacy can affect your real world safety as well, and that’s a problem no one wants.
When it comes to your safety in the real world, remember that what you share online can come into play. Constantly sharing where you are and what you’re doing can give criminals who want to do you harm too much information.
Are your own photos on instagram about your vacation alerting burglars that now would be a great time to break into your home? Did you just increase your chances of identity theft by tweeting out your ridiculous driver’s license picture and not blurring out your personal info?
Think critically about what you’re sharing and whether or not it’s really something that you’re ok with anyone seeing.
Sabotage your own job security
When it comes to social media privacy and your job, it’s important to remember that what you say on social media can come back to bite you at work.
Whether you post about how much you hate your job, make a comment about your boss, or post something that does not follow the core mission of your company, you can get fired for what you say online. So always remember to exercise caution when it comes to what you say online.
If you get fired for something you post online, make sure that it’s something that you actually stand by… not a mistake, not poor judgement, but a true reflection of who you are. Even if you think that what you are doing on social media is private, imagine that your boss read every post and comment.
It’s easy to have a disconnect between what we’re posting and who is reading it. So just keep that in mind when it comes to posting.
How to maintain your privacy on the large social networks
When it comes to maintaining your privacy on social networks, it’s important that you first take some time to reflect on what you are and are not comfortable with sharing, as well as your audience.
It doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all stance, but a general idea will be very helpful when it comes to avoiding many self-inflicted social media privacy issues we see today.
There’s a good chance that your feelings towards privacy on social networks won’t always be consistent and may change depending on what it is that you’re posting. Even so, it’s a good idea to see where you fall on the spectrum.
Are you a “living in a cabin in the woods with a tinfoil hat” type of person when it comes to privacy? Or do you regularly out-selfie a Kardashian? In all likelihood, you fall somewhere in-between. Even so, go through your various social media accounts and do the following:
- Familiarize yourself with the privacy settings. There’s a lot that can be done here to help protect your privacy on social media that most users don’t even consider. For example on Facebook you can customize your settings to share or exclude content from certain people or lists. Most people only know about the “public” or “friends only” options.
- Really consider what you’re posting – even if it’s “private”, there’s always the chance that others could see it. Is it still worth sharing? Quite often we see regrettable posts on social media become newsworthy because of a screenshot someone else took. Even if you take down whatever you posted, it could be too late. Not posting it in the first place is far more effective.
- Stay focused on specific topics – work and a hobby you’re comfortable sharing are great topics because they are professional, but also show a bit of your personality without giving away too much information. The more you share about your personal life and sensitive information, the more you put yourself at risk for social media privacy issues.
- Stay true to your comfort levels. That means, don’t get too personal if that’s not your style. Don’t share information if you think you’ll regret it later. If you’re on the fence about something it’s probably smart to keep it to yourself, just to be safe.
- Treat others as you’d like to be treated. Yes, you have the right to troll anyone you want to… but how is that helping you or anyone else? Not only is it pointless, but it can come back to bite you in a big way.
- Use best practices when it comes to account information. Always use secure passwords that are different for each account, and use a secondary email address for these accounts. In the event of a security breach this will go a long way in ensuring your most important accounts (like your primary email) are protected.
- Don’t share your login credentials with anyone. This should be obvious, but people ignore this tip more often than you would think.
Using free software to make things easier
As you can see, social media platforms provide a great place to engage with others while developing your personal brand. They also come loaded with a number of potential danger zones when trying to maintain your privacy online and in real life.
These privacy issues with social media are not going to disappear anytime soon, which is one of the reasons why we built our DIY tool. Many people are too overwhelmed (or don’t have the time) to monitor this sort of thing on a consistent basis.
Luckily, our free tool can monitor your social media privacy and see if there’s anything out there that you might not be comfortable with. This will take save you some time and give you additional peace of mind knowing you have something looking out for your privacy at all times.
In addition to protecting you from some of the social media privacy issues we discussed earlier, our DIY tool can help you stay on track when it comes to developing a positive and effective personal brand that avoids getting too personal.
It takes you through the process of building out your online reputation by following our 3-Step Process. Build a strong foundation for your personal brand, establish authority, and maintain relevance over time.
Sign up for a free account here.