There is a famous quote from the Spider-Man comics, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I believe this quote is 100% applicable to social media. It’s 2017, my friends. If you’re going to be on social media, be smart and be safe. Before your next social media post, use this two-part guide to ensure your safety, protect your personal brand, and maintain your well-being!

1. Upload photos AFTER you leave an event or place 📸

There are 2 reasons why you should do this. First, imagine you’re out for dinner with a group of friends. When your meal arrives, you decide to take a photo of your food. You spend the next five minutes choosing the right filter, editing the photo, and deciding on the perfect caption. Meanwhile, your food gets cold and your friends fade into the background. If a server came to your table, it might look like this:

Using your phone while out with friends can potentially put your social media safety at risk
Photo via The Conversation

A second thing you may want to consider is if your social media posts are public and you use geo-location tags. You are sharing information about where you are (on vacation) and where you aren’t (at home). Think about what people can do with that information. Or watch this social media experiment by Jack Vale.

So here’s what I do. I snap a photo and put my phone away. Later, once I’m home (or even the next day), I edit my photos and spend all the time I want to mull over a caption. By doing this, I protect my personal whereabouts and I stay in the present moment with my friends (and my food). And if I see my friends distracted by their phones, I’ll suggest a good old phone stack.

2. Delete or revoke permission for third-party apps 🚫

Sometimes I’ll log onto Facebook and I’ll see my friends sharing their results to the latest online quiz like, “What Would Your Wikipedia Page Say?” or “Who Is Your Celebrity Look-a-Like?” When you connect your social media account to one of these apps or quizzes, a permission box appears and lists what the app can do with your account. Do you read it? Depending on the application, some may post Tweets on your behalf, view your contact info (email, mobile phone number, address), or access your Facebook Friends’ information.

Social Media Safety Twitter Settings for Applications

But when you give permission to unaffiliated third-party applications, you risk compromising your account and personal information. If you don’t trust an app, or don’t want to give it access your account anymore, look for the “Applications” tab under Settings. Even if you trust an app at the time you give it permission, it doesn’t hurt to revoke access if you no longer use it.

3. Say goodbye to 🆓 public WiFi

This is one habit I am trying hard to break. When I’m at a bus terminal, a coffee shop, or even on a subway platform, I see if I can connect to free public WiFi. Why? So I can scroll through social media and check my email. Yuck.

WiFi addiction aside, we put ourselves at risk when we connect to public networks because they are insecure and accessible by hackers. When it comes to social media safety, avoiding public wifi is one way to protect your social media accounts. Data you share (like passwords and online forms) are not encrypted on public WiFi networks. Lesson of the day? Just because it’s free now doesn’t mean it won’t end up costing you later. So let’s make a pact to work on this together, okay?

4. Be a Compassionate Customer 💞

I don’t share complaints or issues I may be having with a company on social media. Perhaps it’s because I work in social media – I know what it’s like to provide customer service from the other side of the screen. Sometimes in our frustration, anger, and stress, we forget there is an actual human behind the account. So when my cell phone carrier makes me want to scream, rather than venting on Twitter, I call customer service.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with getting a company’s attention through social media. There are even dedicated customer service accounts like @TTCHelps, @AppleSupport, and @Hootsuite_Help.

And yet, more and more companies are checking your social media accounts during the hiring process. One day you may apply for a job at a company and they reject you because of some of your past rage-filled tweets. Employment prospects aside, it doesn’t hurt to count to 10 before posting that angry tweet or Facebook comment. Be a compassionate customer…and human being.

5. Keep the Personal, Private 🔒

In the past year, I stopped sharing personal photos (of myself, family, friends) on Twitter. Twitter is a platform where the Retweet button encourages people to re-share photos and videos to their followers. Anyone in the world can come across my tweet and things can go viral (meaning thousands of people can see your tweet) in minutes. I don’t want anyone I care about to become the next “Honey Bun Baby.”

“Viral” on Instagram has a different meaning – we use it to refer to how many Likes a photo gets and how many followers an account has. I’d argue that Instagram is less about spreading content and more about appreciating it. This may be why Instagram will never add an official “regram” feature.

In any case, the MTV show Catfish jaded me and I want to avoid photo identity theft for myself and the people I care about. Whether your protect your tweets, set your Instagram account to private, or customize your audience settings on Facebook – familiarize yourself with social media privacy settings.


I hope these tips are useful! Ready for more? Part 2 of this post features 5 more helpful tips! If you have anything to add to this list so far, or found one tip particularly useful, leave it a comment below!

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