Could you go anywhere without your smartphone? For those who never turn their phone off, you may be surprised to know that Facebook, Twitter, and other apps can listen to you through your phone’s mic. While social media has risen quickly in popularity, there have been a lot of questions lately about the privacy of users, and whether apps like Facebook are abusing them by collecting data for advertisers. If you want to protect yourself online, you need to start controlling the way social media can access you. In addition, your accounts could also be exposed to hackers and cyber criminals.
These are a few ideas to keep your social media accounts safe:
1. Use a VPN
A VPN is a set of servers that you can access the Internet through to hide your own location. These servers become like a second location, keeping your home location completely private. Security is the main reason why you may want to do this, so if someone wanted to access your browsing activity, you could use a VPN to stop them in their tracks.
In the past, it was difficult to set up a VPN, but today’s services are more sophisticated and user-friendly, allowing anyone to create their own VPN and start browsing the Internet as privately as possible. You can even try out a free VPN if you’re unsure.
2. Change Your Social Media Password
To protect yourself against phishing and other hacker attempts, you should change your password often. This means that you constantly use a different a password or a variation of it. While it’s a little annoying to do this, if you have been hacked before, then you know you can use a more secure password. At the very least, make sure you use a longer password with numbers and symbols too.
3. Uninstall Facebook from Your Phone
If you are attached to social media, then this is going to be a hard one, but you may not realize the amount of power that social media apps have over your phone’s peripherals. Facebook can use your camera and microphone to store data about you, allowing advertisers to gain access to your timeline feed. If that creeps you out and you’re tired of seeing AARP ads on your Facebook timeline, then it’s time to cut the cord.
4. Close Any Accounts Not in Use
If you have older accounts from when you were younger, don’t allow them to be hacked or used for data. You can delete these accounts and erase your data, as well. You don’t want to leave any personal data behind either, so if you could, delete content whenever you decide to close an account.
5. Be Careful About Who You Add as a Friend
There have been a lot of stories lately from Facebook users who receive messenger requests from hackers disguised as new friend suggestions. If you don’t know the person and haven’t met them before, it’s important to check out their profile carefully before adding them. If it is a hacker, you could be opening yourself up to being hacked via Facebook messenger on your phone.
Victims described these accounts as strangers who often had pictures of real people and one close connection, but they didn’t have any photos or activity besides their profile picture. When asked, friends of these hackers didn’t realize they had been added.
6. Check Your Apps Settings
Do you have location tracking and microphone use on? You can look at your settings within each app to ensure that your privacy is being managed by you, and not the app. You don’t want the app to have control over your microphone, camera, or location. While it may seem convenient to tag yourself or to automatically be added, it’s actually a way for apps to collect data about you and store it away for advertisers or worse.
What would happen if a social media network was hacked? Could you imagine the possibilities based on all the information they have access to?
While every phone is different, you can typically look in “Settings” on your phone and find the app name, then deselect any settings that allow the app to access your location or microphone. There are also advertiser settings within the social media apps. You can turn off the network’s ability to send you ads all the time or change what advertisers are allowed to market to.
7. Log Out of Social Media Accounts When Not in Use
Once you stop looking at Facebook, it’s best to log out, whether you’re on your phone or in a browser. This is because Facebook can actually track your activity while you’re browsing with the app or website open. Users probably don’t realize this, but it’s one of the main ways that Facebook is able to collect data and share your behavior with advertisers.
8. Understand Importance of Your Data Security
When you’re on any social media site, you should be wary of all ads that you are shown. If you see poor quality advertisements with no brand names or only text, these are likely malware-related sites and should not be clicked. While it’s hard to trust any advertiser, if you don’t recognize the name of the brand, you should always do some research before clicking on it. Otherwise, you may just be adding your IP to another hacker database.
9. Use HTTPS to Browse Social Media
HTTPS ensures that you are security when you browse the internet. If you don’t see HTTPS in front of the website URL at the top of the page, it could mean that your connection is unsafe. While a VPN can make this even more secure, it’s best to check any website that doesn’t have this secure connection.
10. Delete Cookies
Finally, while it’s convenient to have passwords saved and other information, you may not want a website to store your information anymore. To see what cookies are saved, you can look at your browser settings. Even if you want to keep some of these cookies, you can delete the ones you don’t recognize.