While social media definitely has a lot of good things to offer, there are serious security concerns with social networking sites. Users may not know it, but their Internet activity is being monitored when they’re on these sites and, increasingly, other sites are tapping into user’s social media activity by using “Like” and “Retweet” buttons of their own to connect their sites with their visitor’s social media profiles.
Understand the Terms of Service
Terms of Service agreements constitute some of the most convoluted examples of legalese anywhere, but you still should take the time to read the agreements you’re signing when you use a social media site. Oftentimes, there are elements to these agreements that users would object to if they knew they were there.
Pay particular attention to how your content is used. Social media sites are trying to become more profitable all the time and, to that end, they’re sharing information with advertisers.
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Note Your Customized Experience
Have you ever “Liked” something and then found advertisements for that item appearing everywhere you go on the web? This isn’t just a spooky coincidence. Advertisers thrive on data bot user habits and companies that have that data have a lot to gain by selling it.
Remember that you can disconnect from social media sites when you’re on other websites. There are extensions for most browsers that allow you to block out information from being sent from your social media sites to other websites and vice versa.
Watch Where You Connect
If you can avoid it, don’t use public Wi-Fi accounts. If you have to use them, remember that they’re never truly safe. There are plenty of tools out there that hackers—even unskilled ones—can use to intercept your Internet activity and potentially steal confidential data.
Get a VPN
VPN connections encrypt the information you’re sending across the Internet and hide your real IP address. These are both great enhancements for your online privacy. The best providers out there offer VPN clients that work with mobile devices, allowing you to hook up to Wi-Fi networks that are open or public and still have encryption protecting your traffic from being intercepted and exploited. Keep in mind, however, that there’s no obligation to sign up for social networking sites and, if you don’t like the privacy implications of doing so, you might want to hold off on joining.