Rules For Protecting Yourself Online

If you are going to use Social Media, you have to learn protect yourself online. It seems everyone wants to be social using Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest, Twitter and other social media. This is great technology to keep us connected with the world. However, keep in mind companies are now looking at profiles of prospective employees.  Then there are criminal minded people who use social media to get personal information.

Article Graphic: Protect Yourself Online - Let's Talk Productions Dallas, Tx

You can enjoy the benefits of social media if you will practice a few simple rules. Whatever you say on a social media site can and will be used against you if the opportunity presents itself. Corporations use social media sites now as part of their background check process. People place party photos of themselves, other people have the ability to post photos of you, your conversations are posted . . . the list goes on. All of this information is open and available to the public. Once it is there, it’s there. What you think is just between you and your friends or you and your group has just been shared with the world.

Protect Yourself Online – Rule #1: Don’t say or share anything on social media that you wouldn’t mind everyone knowing. Especially pictures.

Social media is a huge web, you connect to me and I am connected with 200 people. You are connected with 75 people. So now I am connected with your 75 people plus my 200 and you are connected with my 200 people. To top it off, all of our people are connected to countless others and it never ends. I now have access to your people, the people they are connected to, and any information they shared on their “social” page. Get the picture? This is why you need to be selective about the information shared.

Protect Yourself Online – Rule #2: Don’t mix business and personal on the internet. Use a separate email addresses for family and friends.

Many people use social media as a great way to keep up with family and friends especially if they live out of state.  It would be great to have only one email address your whole life and if no one ever did anything to hurt or harm another individual ever.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in that kind of society.

  • Use a special email for personal contacts such as friends and family.
  • Use a business email for business reasons only.  This removes unnecessary distractions from your inbox.

Never give your business email to friends or family.  While they may mean well, everyone isn’t trained on internet safety.  People give out all kinds of personal information on social media that they should not like travel plans, etc. that people with ill intentions could take advantage of.

If you use social media site professional reasons, your company should have a policy in place to protect the company.

In this age of the internet it is almost impossible to not have some sort of presence on the web. It is a great way to do research and find people.  Companies may list team members, you being one of the team members.  While with anything, there is the good and the bad, the best thing we can do is to conduct ourselves as if we are in an non-private world.

Protect Yourself Online – Rule #3: Don’t share personal information like location, address, phone numbers, etc.

If you are using Social Media for business purposes you will need to include your business address, phone number, etc. since this is how customers will find you.  News spreads fast on Social Media.  This is a good thing.  However it is bad when the wrong news or even misrepresentation occurs as a result of freedom of the internet.

Protect Yourself Online – Rule #4: Don’t allow your children to have social media accounts.

Children don’t know how to protect themselves and can put you and your family in danger by disclosing the wrong information.

Other Ways To Protect Yourself Online

Information such as birthday, marital status, kids, home town, high school, etc. are valuable pieces of information for SPAMMERS or people seeking to steal identity. Social Media sites as well as all websites are bound by privacy laws, however this does not stop those who want to get information about you from getting it. Limit the information you provide. Always use a screen name and not your real name. Again, don’t allow your teens and children to use social media. If you do, educate them and make sure they know not to divulge personal information. Monitor their accounts.

For organizations, it is great if they have their own private network for social purposes. This way they can control membership and access. They have the ability to moderate and remove people.

Protect Yourself Online – Rule #5: Make sure to use a credit card or debit card specifically for internet purchases.

Don’t use your main bank card. Use a pre-paid card or an account that holds a specific amount in it for online transactions. This will save you the headache of having to get things straight with your bank if your information is ever compromised.

The best use for social media I have seen are businesses and Hollywood. Business can often afford to put security measures in place when using social media. However they also need to be careful that no one in the organization gives out sensitive information.

A good, sure-fire way to protect yourself online is to always have a business email address and a personal email address. If you see something that you want to sign up for but are not sure about the company, then it is good to have a generic email address that you don’t care if SPAM goes to. Use this email address to sign up for stuff or to give to people you are not sure about. You can go in and check this email whenever you expect something from it knowing there is the possibility of you having to clean it out regularly or trash it at some point.

Spammers search for random email addresses that they could use to send out junk email to and not have the email traced back to themselves. A Spammer sends an email that is looks legitimate, and the user doesn’t recognize it as strange. Once the email is opened, the spammer knows the email address is valid. They then use the email address to send emails about everything to everybody in your email distribution and possibly others.

Another SPAM trick is to get people to sign up for a survey, contest or to win a prize and there is a box that you “inadvertently” leave checked. This checked box says in small print “by checking this box you agree to receive notices from all of our partners and affiliates.” You have then just opened yourself up to be the recipient of all kinds of junk email.

One other way to protect yourself online is when you download certain software from the internet and have to enter your email address. So long story short, make sure you are only giving your email address to reputable companies that won’t sell your email address or be sure to create yourself a “junk” email address to give out to people you are uncertain about.

This last tip to protect yourself online is for organizations.  If you want to be social, look into creating your own private social network that you control. Feel free to post questions you have on the subject and I’ll do my best to answer them all or point you to the answer.  These are just a few simple ways to protect yourself online.  You don’t have to avoid the internet, you just need to be smart about the way you use and share information online.