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How Best to Protect Your Privacy Online

by | Oct 12, 2021 | Firm News



Policy Online blog
By Chakeema Cruickshank, Staff Writer
If You’ve Just Got to Post on Facebook, Instagram or Tik Tok, at Least Think Twice

Social media applications such as Facebook, Instagram, or Tik Tok are a great way to connect with others, share and learn information, post life updates, and also pass the time. However, with the positives of social media comes the negatives, such as privacy concerns. In our digital age, privacy is much more difficult to protect, especially as social media has become so intertwined into daily life. Therefore, it is more important than ever to know how to protect your privacy online.

Why is it important to protect digital privacy?

 In this digital age, everything is online and easily accessible. One important reason to protect digital privacy is to protect against cyberattacks. There can be serious privacy threats associated with social media including phishing or malware attempts. Phishing attempts come in the form of messages, emails, texts, or phone calls as an attempt to access protected information.

Similarly, malware is designed to gain access to devices to steal personal information. Sharing on social media can make one susceptible to these attacks as hackers pry on personal information to gain access. It is key to avoid sharing sensitive personal information and making sure each social media account is protected by a different, unique password.

Protecting privacy online is also important for employment and job searches. Currently, there are no federal laws that prevent employers from monitoring employees on social media. Many employers look at an applicant’s social media during the interview process and employment. According to recent research by Glassdoor, 79% of job applicants use social media in their job search. Setting your profile to private is one easy way to protect privacy. However, no matter if your account is set to public or private, here are some ways to protect your privacy while posting:

Read the Terms of Service.

When signing up for websites, many skip past the fine print and may not fully read the terms of service. However, these documents contain important information on what websites will be doing with your information. This can include giving information and data to third parties. Once the agreement box is clicked, a website has access to that information. To be cautious, it is always important to read the fine print so you are aware of what information is being stored or used.  Moreover, each social media application has privacy settings which are also important in protecting privacy.

Adjust Privacy and Security Settings.

Each social media application has a privacy and security setting where you can adjust what and how much others can see. It is a good idea to learn and understand the privacy settings of each application. For example, on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, you can adjust how much is seen and shared with your followers and connections.

For privacy concerns, opting in to a private profile is a potential solution so you can control who can see and access your profile. If a private profile is not an option, you can adjust what information appears on your profile.

Turn Off Location Data.

Many social media platforms include check ins and location data to showcase your location. Although it may be tempting to use, avoid sharing your exact location for not only privacy, but security concerns. For example, sharing vacation photos while on vacation can indicate your home is empty.  Location data can be turned off in the application settings and you can adjust how frequently your location is used.

Avoid Sharing Personal Information.

When sharing on social media, a variety of personal information can be shared both knowingly and unknowingly. This can include information such as full name, location, where you work, birthdate, and more. There is certain personal information that should not be posted online for privacy concerns. This includes address, social security numbers, full birth date with year, banking information, and vacation plans.

Think Twice Before You Post.

The most important takeaway is to think twice before you post. Carefully think about what information you put online and make sure no sensitive personal information is included. Once information is posted, it is out there for the world to see. With these tips in mind, social media can be enjoyed safely. Before you post, make sure you are aware of what and how much you are sharing.

Staff Writer Chakeema Cruickshank is currently a first year at Rutgers Law School Camden. Prior to Rutgers Law, she worked for Senator Menendez doing constituent relations and outreach for education, environment, and technology. 

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