No matter what platform you use—Facebook®, Twitter®, Instagram®, TikTok®, or Snapchat®—your social media accounts keep you informed, connect you to the wider world, and help you stay close to friends and family. But did you know they can also expose your personal information to hackers and identity thieves?
At Asurion, our experts help millions learn more about their tech, from how to stay safe online to offering their picks for the best password managers. Here are eight things they recommend to protect your privacy on social media.
Don't share your personal details
Never post your phone number, home address, passwords, or social media logins—if criminals can't find them, they can't use them against you. Even seemingly innocuous information, like your hometown or your pet's name, could help hackers crack your security questions or passwords. A good rule to follow: Only post photos and information you don't mind sharing with, well, the whole world.
Avoid sharing your location
Social media makes it easy to share your exact location, and it can be fun to get likes and comments from friends who've been to the same restaurant in New York City or beach in Florida. But it also tells people where you aren't. You wouldn't want a thief seeing your posts and figuring out that your home is sitting there, empty, while you are thousands of miles away, right?
Make your accounts private
Be selective about who can see your profile. Ideally, you should only share photos and updates with people you know and trust. If your Instagram account is open to the public, think about all the information scammers and marketers can glean from your posts—where you shop for groceries, what you eat for dinner, or even where your kids attend school. The exact steps vary depending on the platform you're using, but they typically involve navigating to Settings > Privacy.
Think before you click
A bad link in a Facebook message or tweet could allow hackers to take over your account or install malware on your computer. If you don't know the person who sent you the message or if it looks suspicious, delete it. It could be a phishing attack, a kind of scam that aims to steal your username, passwords, and other information. To learn more, read our guide on spotting phishing emails and our guide to spam text messages.
Update your apps
Always update the social media apps you use on your phone. They'll give you the maximum amount of protection against bugs and hacks. Better yet, turn on automatic updates. Depending on your device, look for this setting in Settings, then Software Update, System Update, or Update & Security.
How to update apps manually on your iPhone or iPad
- Open the App Store®.
- Tap your profile icon at the top of the screen.
- Tap Update next to your social media apps to only update those apps, or tap Update All.
How to update an Android app
- Open the Google Play™ store.
- At the top right, tap the profile icon.
- Tap Manage apps & device. Apps with an update available are labeled "Update available."
- Tap Update.
Reject and report duplicate accounts
If you get a friend request from someone who is already on your friends list, don't accept it—there's a good chance their account has been hacked. Instead, report it via the Settings tab.
Don't take quizzes that require access to your profile
Social media quizzes may be mindless fun, but they're often designed to capture your personal information. Even if they assure you that they won't post to your feed, they may sell your details to scammers. So the next time you're tempted to find out which Harry Potter Hogwarts House you'd be assigned to, don't.
Avoid using social accounts to sign in to other sites
Using one of your social media accounts to sign in to accounts on other websites is easy, but it puts your personal information at risk. If one of the sites gets hacked, then all your accounts using that login information become vulnerable as well.
Following these tips will help ensure your personal information stays private—from strangers, that is, not from social media companies.