How to Secure Your Social Network Privacy for the New Year

“Nearly two in three U.S. adults who have personal social media profiles say they are aware that their accounts have been hacked and 86 percent agree they limit the personal information they post due to the fear of it being accessed by hackers.”

Even with this awareness, a third of social media users are unaware of being hacked. And being aware of the problems isn’t the same as blocking them completely.

Before You Start: Unfriend Neglected Accounts!

Whatever social network you use, keeping tabs on which accounts are in use and which have been abandoned is important. Neglected or deserted accounts can be hijacked by scammers far more easily than an account that is regularly accessed.

Think about it this way: if you stopped using a social account, what information would a hacker find? Details of your friends, employers, family members… and of course, your own data. Personal information such as your birthday, where you live, and the things you like to do. Photos of you and your friends.

Facebook unfriend neglected accounts

Anyone you’re friends with has a degree of access to the same information. Perhaps they don’t have the option to view detailed information about you, but anything they know of you offline may be mentioned. You’ll appear in their photos. Links might be shared with you by them.

All in all, it’s an avenue for scammers to get their hooks into you by posing as a friend online. You’ve no real way to tell if the account is being controlled by a friend or not, unless you call them on the phone or speak in person.

So, if an account suddenly comes back to life, treat it with suspicion at first. But it’s better to avoid this possibility altogether, and simply delete neglected accounts. What’s the worst that could happen? That you might be wrong?

Once you’ve sorted that problem out, it’s time to move onto the nuts and bolts of social account security. We’ve featured the three most popular social media services below. Use the steps in each to ensure your account security.

Login to Facebook, open the menu, and you’ll find two key items: Security and Login and Privacy. Using these (and a couple of other options) you’ll be able to gain complete control of your Facebook account privacy.

Facebook log out of sessions

To get started, expand the Where you’re logged in view in Security and login. This will illustrate not only how much information Facebook records about you, but what information might be gathered by someone using your account. It’s a good idea to use the Log out of all sessions button to remove this data.

Once you’ve done that, it’s a very good idea to setup a physical security key to control access to your Facebook account. This ensures protection against login-based scams and hacks.

How to Secure Your Twitter Account

Compared to Facebook, Twitter is tiny, with just 330 million users in the same period. Unlike Facebook, many Twitter accounts are automated (more commonly known as “bots”) and many people have control of multiple accounts. As such, the real total could be far less.

twitter revoke access

This doesn’t mean that the risk of being hacked or scammed is any less real, however. You need to take the practice of securing your Twitter account seriously. Don’t just robotically do it — understand why you need to and what each step of the process means.

How to Secure Your Facebook Account

Just how massive is Facebook? Well, in the third quarter of 2017, Facebook reported an unparalleled 2.07 billion monthly active users.

Over the years, additional privacy and security features have been added. But before we take a look at how to tighten things up, just remember: Facebook might be free, but they’re making money out of you. Bearing in mind just how much they know about you, you might be less inclined to embrace Facebook as wholeheartedly in future.

A key part of this is controlling the apps that you give access to. It only takes one bad app, or one dodgy developer, to be able to subvert access to your Twitter account. Solve this problem by disabling apps that you no longer use. Many services utilize a Twitter login to save time, and these should also be carefully administered.

How to Secure Your Instagram Account

As of April 2017, Instagram boasted an impressive 700 million users. Although some accounts are spam bots, most are controlled by people (or in the case of celebrity Instagram accounts, PR teams).

Photo sharing can be a risk, however. There is information that can be gleaned from photos alone, such as where you are, where you’ve been, who you’re with. All things you may prefer undesirables are not privy to.

Instagram social media privacy settings

Want to keep your Instagram account secure? It’s very simple.

Open the Options menu to find the Change Password option, and select a password that is secure. For more privacy, meanwhile, you can flick the Private Account switch. While existing followers will remain, no new people can see your photos unless you give approval. If your children are using Instagram, this is a setting you should insist on them enabling. Comments can also be disabled, and automatic and manual filters enabled to limit the sort of language used by commenters.