Be Smart on Social Media


Information you post on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, Google +, YouTube or other social media page can make you a target for identity thieves, computer hackers and even stalkers.  BBB provides these tips for safe social networking:

Avoid TMI – Posting too much information can have serious consequences. Do not post your Social Security number (even the last 4 digits), birth date, place of birth, home address, home/private cell phone numbers or personal account information (banking, credit cards, etc).  Identity thieves can use this data to open bank accounts, credit card accounts and even take out loans using your identity.  Other information, such as the name of your high school, sports teams or clubs, can also be used to steal your identity.

Set Privacy Options – Go the to site’s privacy settings and restrict your information so it can only be viewed by people or groups you select.  Do the same with your photos, profile, message areas, etc.  You may even be able to set limits on who can find you through the site’s search function.

Read the Privacy Policy – Social networking sites are free to use because they collect information about you that may be used to target specific advertisers to you.  Read the site’s privacy policy to see if your information is shared with outside companies and parties. 

Applications and Quizzes – Before using an application or quiz (for example, IQ Tests, Which Harry Potter Character are You?, etc), be sure you check the terms.  These applications often pull your profile information, photos, your friends’ information, and other content that they require to work. Some require you to enter your cell phone number to get results, which can be given to companies who are selling special text message services, such as your daily horoscope – you will be billed for these services.

You Can’t Take it Back – Even though you delete information or photos from your page, older versions can still exist on other computers.  Nothing is temporary. 

Who is Looking? – Don’t put anything on your page that you wouldn’t want your teacher, your coach, your parents, a potential employer or college/university to see. 

Suspicious Friends – Be wary if a new online friend wants to meet you in person or starts to flirt with you online. Sexual predators and other dangerous people lurk online.  If you feel threatened or uncomfortable, tell an adult you trust or report the incident to the police.  You could save someone else from becoming a victim.