Tech Column: Social safety savvy
Keep social media from burning you
The new age of social media means there are more ways to socially shame someone. Make sure to keep safe any information you don’t want to get out.
Calling social media the biggest shift in society since the industrial revolution might be a bit hyperbolic, but there’s no denying that our new, always-connected lifestyles are changing the way we think, act, communicate… and make fools of ourselves.
Yes, social media is a double-edged sword, and I have heard some wicked horror stories brought about by a single drunken night out on the town. Essentially, what happens in Vegas stays on Facebook and YouTube.
To help you avoid potential career-killing, public-shame-inducing moves, here are four tips you should always keep in mind:
Use smart passwords
I know you’ve heard it dozens of times before, but there are still people using 123456 as a password, so it needs to be said again. Using a common password is just as dangerous as leaving your door unlocked or your wallet lying around – you’re leaving your personal information open for anyone to mess around with.
A good rule of thumb for passwords is using 12-16 characters, with both letters and numbers as well as capitals and lowercase. If the account lets you use symbols, use the heck out of symbols. An easy way to do this is use phrases, quotes, or lyrics. For Breaking Bad fanatics, how about EmpireBusiness2011? If you’re a Star Trek fan, why not ItsAGoodDay2Die? Just pick something you know off the top of your head and run with it – chances are no one will be able to catch you.
Also, don’t use the same password everywhere. If your Twitter account is hacked, then you just handed the bad guys access to your bank account as well, and that’s just dumb. If you can’t remember all your sites off the top of your head, then try a password manager like LastPass or KeePass, or write them down and carry them with you. Not the most elegant solution, but at least your relationship status won’t become “it’s complicated” while in the middle of a date. Hopefully.
Password protect your phone
Yes, being always connected via your phone is great. Yes, it makes it easier to keep in touch with the people you care about. Yes, someone else can use your phone to make you look like a complete jackass. Play it safe, and put a lock on your phone.
Check your privacy settings
Every time Facebook introduces one of its updates, not only does the internet boil over in rage, but your posts may have just become less private as well. To make sure parents and employers don’t see that picture from that one party years ago, check your privacy settings on all your sites regularly.
Also, Snapchat really isn’t as secure as you think it is. There are apps out there now that will save supposedly-deleted pics and messages, meaning that it’s very possible you could be following the infamous path of a certain Mr. Anthony Weiner.
Disable accounts you never use
It’s not as bad as an account filled with racist, sexist screed or unflattering pictures, but it doesn’t reflect positively on you or your commitment to seeing things through. Feel free to give social networks a try, but don’t be afraid to pull the plug when they’re not working out.