Smart Social Media

Online social media services provide simple and convenient ways to stay on top of what’s going on with friends, family, academic, and professional contacts. Risks come with these conveniences though, and it is wise to be aware of how others might take advantage of your social media use. Here are some tips for making sure you are keeping yourself and your private information safe.

Use Strong Password Protection on All Social Media Accounts and Enable Two-Factor Authentication Wherever It Is Offered

Make sure all your social media accounts are protected by strong passwords, and keep those passwords confidential. This means that not only should you avoid sharing your login credentials with other people outright, but you should also take care to avoid sharing this information inadvertently. If you use public computers to access your personal accounts, always make sure you log out before you end your session on that device.

Never permit a web browser to save a password for you. Anyone with access to your device will be able to access your accounts using stored information. Stored credentials can also be stolen in malware attacks. You should also avoid using browser syncing features, especially on public computers. See our article about browser security to learn more.

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for the best security. Anyone using your credentials will also need a one-time code that is sent to your phone or other device to get access to your account. Refer to the 2FA website to learn more and to enroll in UChicago’s 2FA service to protect your University accounts. Check the security settings on your other online accounts, including social media, banking, and retail vendors to find out if they offer 2FA as well.

Be Attentive About Privacy Settings

It is best to use the strongest privacy settings available for your social media accounts, so that you have the greatest control over who sees your posts. However, you should always keep in mind that people within your network can still share screenshots of your page outside your approved network, so if you really want to keep something private, it is better to not share it in these venues.

Give the privacy of others the same consideration you would like them to give yours. Ask people if it is OK to take their pictures, post their pictures, or tag them in posts. Be especially sensitive about pictures and stories involving people who are intoxicated or otherwise unable to properly consent to being part of your online life.

Location information is often enabled by default, so anyone looking at your newsfeed can see approximately where you were when you posted. Keep in mind that people you do not necessarily want to see might be able to find you, and that you might be advertising that your home is unoccupied when you announce that you are out on the town. Disable location data where you have the option to do so.

Use good judgment about accepting friend requests, and take advantage of options that allow you to sort members of your social networks into filtered groups. It is especially important to be careful about connections with people where power is not equally shared, such as student/faculty, student/staff, or manager/employee. You should also never feel obligated to accept the online friendship of someone who makes you uncomfortable, even if you have many friends or professional or academic connections in common.