Privacy on social media is a lifestyle we should adopt

Gabriella Pinos/ Staff Writer

When it comes to data privacy on social media, there are a few basic rules I try to follow. Don’t release personal information like your social security number on your profile. Don’t click on shady links. Don’t give all your information to the tech overlords. Don’t trust everything you see on your social media feed. Even my grandmother knows what not to do when she logs into her Facebook account.

But as simple as it may sound, privacy goes much further than a few simple tips. Americans are warier than ever about their personal information, with 24 percent of them not at all confident that social media sites can protect their data, according to Pew Research Center.

In a way, staying safe on social media is as much of a lifestyle as scrolling through our feeds every day. And, for a generation that grew up online, it takes a lot of time and patience to get rid of those nasty habits we do every day.

I, for instance, must remind myself that whatever I throw out into the aether stays there, forever. Posting something a little too personal, even if it’s just on my profile, can come back to haunt me in my career, or it can be harvested by third-party companies a la Facebook.

Either way, posting your autobiography on social media is a risky move. When possible, try to avoid putting down breadcrumbs that can lead to more personal information. My mother, even to this day, cautions me not to put in my real birthday on social media, which is a practice I think we all should incorporate in our online lifestyles.

If you’re like me and you suck at remembering important things, you have some of your personal information written down somewhere, perhaps on a sticky note or even in the Notes app on your phone. Either way, don’t be like me; doing so makes it easy for someone to access your data. If you feel the need to have your information written down, make sure it’s somewhere secure every time you use it.

Also, as annoying it may be to close that pop-up every time, never let your browser remember the login to a website or social media page. Just try to exercise your brain muscles instead.

Some advice I’ve heard is to use long passwords with symbols and capital letters to ensure no one hacks into your accounts. The downside to that is remembering those passwords, especially if your brain gets as distracted as mine. Online password managers that store all your passwords are a solution to this, although it ironically brings up the issue of remembering the password to that site as well.

And, of course, we must keep tabs on social media itself, as the sites we’ve grown to live and share our lives on turn on its users to make a profit. If there’s anyone I don’t trust to handle my data, it’s Mark Zuckerberg and the higher-ups at Google, but there aren’t many options outside of the social media they handle.

In a world where our information is always public, fighting for our privacy is more important than ever before. All it takes is a single mistake for our information to leak out into the world, so keeping an eye on what we put out there in the first place is crucial. So, if you’re ever doubtful about whether your personal information is secure, it’s fine to act like a concerned mother and make sure your precious data is in check.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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