Web based social networking services like Facebook make it possible to connect to people. The basic features of social networking sites are: visible profiles with a list of “friends”. Profiles are created by answering a series of questions such as age, location, and interests, and by uploading pictures. Users then interact with one another through status updates and sharing of information.
The “fun part” of online social media is the networking and sharing. The dangerous part of online social media can also be the networking and sharing. To get a sense of why people enjoy online social networking, visit Twitter or Facebook during a playoff game or during a live broadcast of a show like “American Idol.” Thousands of people might be sitting alone on their couches watching the game or the show, but they are interacting with people – cheering for their favorite person or trash-talking an opponent.
Personal information is exchanged as if the conversation were happening in a private space. The fact is, these people are speaking publicly. Consider the following “do’s and don’ts” of social media when interacting with your friends and family.
Do take advantage of the privacy settings available and encourage your friends to do the same. Even if you only share information with designated people using privacy settings, others can neglect to use proper settings allowing everyone they are connected to the ability to see information about you.
Don’t announce your vacation plans. It may not be only your closest friends who can see when you are leaving and when you will return. Wait until you come home to share your vacation information online.
Don’t stay logged into Facebook while you visit other websites. Any time you browse the internet without first logging out of Facebook, other sites can gain access to any profile information you’ve marked as public information.
Do resist the urge to share identifying information on your social media profiles. On Facebook for example, you can include your full home address, phone number, date of birth, and other information. This gives criminals enough details about you to attempt to steal your identity or worse, if you also share your vacation plans, they not only know where you live, they also know exactly when your home will be empty!
Do ask questions before clicking on links. Malware is common on status updates on social media sites. If you are uncertain about a link posted, ask the sender first.