Social Media Privacy

Social media sites and apps, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, Yik Yak and others can be useful and fun, but if you aren't careful, your privacy can be at risk. Protect your privacy by following these tips.

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Protect Your Privacy

Use privacy settings.

Customize them to your needs. Look for security or privacy settings in the social media app or on the website. Restrict your entire account to only approved friends or followers, or configure restrictions on a post-by-post basis, if possible.

Undershare, do not overshare.

Some things should stay private and known only to you. Don't feel pressured to "complete your profile." Information like your birthday (especially the year), your phone number, and where you live or work doesn't need to be on your social media profile.

Watch what you're tagged in.

Stay aware of posts and pictures that others tag you in. If possible, enable features that allow you to review tagged posts before they are shared.

Manage third-party app authorizations.

If you use your social media account to log in to other sites, or allow apps to access your account, periodically review those applications and de-authorize those that no longer need access. Only allow trustworthy and secure services access to your account.

Pick strong passwords.

Use a different, strong password for each of your social media accounts. Don't use your UMICH password for non-U-M sites.

Use two-factor or multi-factor authentication if offered.

Whenever social media apps give you the option to protect your account by using an additional "factor" to verify your identity when you log in, take advantage of it.

Stay Secure Online

Keep your accounts secure.

If possible, periodically review active logins, cancelling those that look unfamiliar.

Avoid sharing your location.

Disable location services inside the app or mobile device settings when you do not need to share your location. Don't post your street address publicly.

Practice safe computing.

Properly secure your devices (see Secure Your Devices), use a secure internet connection (avoid using public wi-fi), and log out or off of your accounts when you're not using them.

Friend or follow only those you trust.

Don't accept friend or follow requests if you aren't sure who the person is, or if their account looks suspicious. Block or report suspicious or spammy accounts.

Don't click suspicious links in social media postings.

Shortened links or links without automatic previews could be spam or phishing. Hover over links with your cursor to find out if they go where they say they do. Consider using a URL lengthener to expose shortened URLs before you click.

Advanced Steps

Proactively protect yourself from harassment.

Familiarize yourself with options for blocking, muting, and reporting obnoxious and harassing people in the services you use. Search the online help for the social media service you use for "blocking" or "muting." For example, here are instructions for some popular social media services:

Be aware that anonymous doesn't mean untraceable.

Using a pseudonym on a site or within an app isn't the same as being fully anonymous. Things you post or share can usually be tied to your real identity.

Hide your profile from search engines.

Consider using settings that prevent your profile from being publicly searched.