These days we tend to live online. Everything we put out onto the social web will remain there for eternity. That’s a scary fact and one you want to think about carefully every time you post an update, make a tweet or share your status.
Imagine your grandkids doing a search on you in 40 years time and finding those tacky updates about how drunk you were on Saturday and the tagged photos to boot!
Amusement factor aside, privacy is an ongoing concern for all of us as social media sites attempt to access every last detail about us. How do you protect yourself?
Well, when it comes to privacy, it all boils down to using your common sense.
Act as if you don’t have any privacy settings.
Don’t share or post things you don’t want your mother, colleague or latest client to see for starters. I’m not saying don’t reveal anything.
Of course you should keep it personal and show people you’re human with an actual life and even friends! But there’s ways to filter who sees what. Let’s look at them.
Manage your Facebook privacy settings
Let us start with the one network most commonly associated with privacy mishaps – Facebook. From photos, to status updates to messages with friends, over time, this site collects a lot of information about us.
But what happens when you start interacting with people you don’t know in real life? Or when business associates start adding you as a connection on your personal profile? What access do they have to your information? How do you keep things private?
Make use of Facebook Lists
Facebook has privacy settings that you can adjust so that you can control what information you share with different people. But first, before you change those settings, you will need to set up lists to add any new people you connect with and your existing friends to..
To do this go to the the upper right corner of your Facebook page and click on `Account’ to access your drop down menu and select “Edit Friends”. Here you can create a new list and then select friends to be added.
Examples of my lists are `Social Media influencers’, Women Entrepreneurs, Ultimate, Vancouver, Buenos Aires.
Once your lists have been created, you can then customize your privacy settings.
Go back to your Account drop down menu, and select “privacy settings” and then “customize settings” at the bottom.
From here you can select which lists will have access to certain things on your profile – for example your date of birth, mobile number, email etc There is a separate menu for setting the privacy of your photos.
After making all your adjustments, you can click on “Preview my Profile” and be shown your Public Profile as seen by anyone who searches for you on Facebook.
Useful lists to create
I’ve created a list called `Limited Profile’ so whenever someone adds me as a friend that I only know on a professional level, I select this so they don’t have access to all my photos and details but can interact on my wall.
You can also enter a friend’s name and see what they would see if they went to your page.
By the way did you know when you make a status update you can choose who sees it – you can even exclude some friends and whichever lists you select.
Alternatively you can make sure that a status update is just seen by a certain list. For example if you’re heading to Las Vegas and have friends on a Vegas list you can just post an update that only they will see.
To do this click on the lock symbol to the right of your status update post before you click on post and select which people you want to see it.
PS: Have you updated to the new profile? Facebook has a great “How to” guide on navigating the privacy settings of the new layout.
How to lock down your LinkedIn privacy settings
When people think of online privacy on social networks, many think about Facebook and its constant battle over its user’s privacy. But what about the other social networks? Is it possible to make your information private there as well? Yes indeedio.
As a professional network many people think LinkedIn is a safer social network as you just don’t divulge as much personal information.
However, there are still settings you can change to make sure not just anyone can access your information, including those dreaded spammers that are scouring the groups. Within your settings page, there are a number of features of LinkedIn that you can customize.
First is your public profile. What do individuals see when they search for you on LinkedIn and are not logged into the site? The public profile section also gives you the option to look at your profile as if you were someone else so you can see what they see.
Your feed visibility
This setting controls what items appear in your recent activity on your profile. You can choose to have it visible to all, to only those in your network, to only your connections or to no one.
When visiting another individual’s profile page while logged into the site, LinkedIn keeps a record of your visit on the individual’s page. You can adjust how much information about you is left behind in your “Profile Views” setting option.
To see who has been visiting your page, go to your LinkedIn homepage and on the right hand side, there should be a box that says “Who’s Viewed Your Profile?” If you click on the link, you will be taken to a page with that information.
There are a number of other options you can change to suit your personal preference for your LinkedIn page, but these were the top ones of which to be aware.
How to keep some tweets from going viral
Twitter is a network used for sharing – sharing of links, ideas, thoughts and opinions. As such, Twitter keeps it’s privacy settings pretty minimal.
Unless you’re Demi Moore and want to tweet a photo of yourself looking hot in a bikini and have that tweet go viral, then here’s what you can do to protect yourself.
Protect your tweets
You can removed your tweets from the public timeline. To access this go to `Settings > Account and scroll down to select the box `Protect my tweets’.
While I think this defeats the purpose of having a twitter account, as someone pointed out on Twitter to me, it is valid option for people with a high public profile.
Like an Oprah Winfrey who may use an alias name and only give that info out to certain people she wants to connect with, or people who have private information to share with a select group of people.
Send a Direct Message
Of course if you are interested in having a private conversation with someone over twitter, you can use the Direct Message. It’s ideal for sending your email address or phone number or discussing things that do not need to appear in the public stream.
Also it’s a highly personal way to thank people or continue a conversation just with them. Simply write d username to do this. Make sure you turn off you Twitter DM on your phone if you don’t want to embarrass yourself too. Otherwise this could happen.