Social networking sites and social media have brought about a paradigm shift in the way we use the Internet and connect to people across the world. While this innovation has been a boon for building relationships and business connections, it has brought with it a whole new set of risks to the users of such platforms.

The first issue is that to register or create an account on a social media site, you will be asked to fill in a form that requires your name, email address, and maybe even your home address or at least the name of the city you reside in. Much of the information you provide is available for all to view as part of your profile. In fact, it is best to remember that anything you put up on the Internet is accessible to all. Therefore, the first step to take is to limit the information you give out online. This includes the photographs you upload on a Facebook album. Photographs not only reveal a lot about you and your interests, but they can also give away information on your exact location if they contain the names of streets or buildings in the background.

The reality is that with the increase in popularity of a social site, the risks associated with using it also increases. This is because cyber criminals of all kinds, including virus creators, identity thieves, spammers and hackers, follow traffic on popular sites.

Tips on the Safe Use of Social Media Platforms

  • Be careful what links you click on. The same level of caution is needed as one would use for links sent via email.
  • Hackers have the ability to enter the accounts of your friends and send you messages or even invitations to join some new social media site. If you suspect a message of being fraudulent, contact the friend via some other means to confirm.
  • Avoid sharing email addresses or information from your email address book on such sites.
  • Use a bookmark or directly type in the URL of the site, rather than click a link on another site. That link may lead to a phishing website made to look legitimate, and you would be entering your user name and password on an unsecured site.
  • Be careful when accepting invitations to be friends with strangers.
  • Use a social network only if you understand its privacy policy.
  • Anything you type on a social media site might be accessible even after you delete it.
  • Be cautious about using third-party applications.
  • Be extremely strict about what files you download from social sites.

So now that you know how to use social media platforms more safely, it’s time to go out and stay connected!

Next week, it’s time for email safety. Stay tuned to your QNet Blog as we talk about how to use email safely!