WZZM 13 News: Protecting Yourself on Social Media

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) — In a world where every vacation, family picture and status update is shared, tweeted and liked, security and privacy concerns could be the last thing on your mind.

“There’s a well-known saying that if you’re not paying for the product, you probably are the product,” said James Czerew, Security Consultant with TechConnect, LLC.

Social media platforms profit from the aggregation of information shared on their sites. Thus Facebook, Inc., Twitter, Inc. and Instagram, Inc. profit margins are dependent on users and what they post.

When a new account is registered on a social media website, the user is required to check or accept the terms and conditions of the site. Security settings and privacy policies are included in these end-user license agreements. Thus, users cannot retroactively rescind privacy and copyright rules they agreed upon during the creation of said account.

“It is important to read those, Czerew said. “Understand what rights you are giving away when you sign up for these platforms.”

If a user chooses to create a social media account, there are certain steps they can take to restrict the type of information that gets shared and with whom it is shared with.

To restrict your security settings on Facebook, users should select the lock and three lines icon located near the top right of the webpage and follow instructions through the privacy checkup.

“Facebook by default puts everything as public,” said Matthew Gort, a Client Support Engineer with Trivalent Group, Inc.

To restrict Twitter’s privacy settings, click on your profile picture or avatar at the top right on the page and scroll down to select settings. From there, open the security and privacy tab located on the left side of your screen and amend your account according to your comfort level.

“Instagram’s privacy settings are more difficult to alter via a computer,” Gort said. Instead, users should use their phones to change their security settings.

Under your profile, click the icon located in the top right corner of your phone (it resembles a sun) and then swipe right on the line “private account” to restrict viewership.

According to experts, it is important to note that even with extra privacy precautions taken, anything you put on the internet can be found and exploited like: your birthday, mother’s maiden name or your favorite pet.

“Having your birthday out there is nice but it’s also a security question that can be used of validating you are who you claim to be,” Gort said.

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