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5 social media dos and don’ts to protect your privacy and security

The more social media accounts you have, the more data companies collect. There’s an easy way to clean up your old posts from Twitter, Facebook, Imgur and more. Tap or click here for a tool that can automatically remove posts from more than 20 sites and apps.

Social media has come a long way since its beginnings, but not in a good way. Between misinformation, scammers, hackers, cyberbullying and invasive privacy practices, it’s easy to see why people are deleting themselves from social media.

We understand that social media is a great way to keep in touch with people you care about. It also makes it easy to get updates from public figures you follow. Keep reading for social media tips to protect privacy and security.

1. Think before posting

Never forget that your social media audience exceeds your close friends and followers. Your posts can still get out there even if you make your account private. People can screenshot things you say and share them at will.

Think about all the celebrities and politicians apologizing for posts they deleted years ago — those screenshots are eternal.

Before posting anything, stop and think. What would happen if your spouse or significant other saw the post? How about your grandparents or children? Don’t forget your boss and coworkers. If you’re a student, assume that your school, teachers and classmates will also see your posts.

Anyone can view anything you post. If you’re worried about a particular person or group seeing it, then don’t post it.

2. Don’t overshare

Keep your private life private. Nobody needs to know about your medical history or financial situation.

Got a new job? Great, then let the world know. But leave your income out of it. And don’t mention that the company is too cheap to fix the broken coffee maker. And while it might be a common theme, don’t talk negatively about coworkers.

Oversharing doesn’t just put your privacy at risk but also your safety. Crooks view social media as a treasure trove of targets, and they love it when you flash cars, jewelry, cash and other valuables. Don’t tempt bad people to come after you or your things.

3. Keep a low profile

Let’s just cut to the chase: Don’t include any of this information in your profile:

  • Your email address.
  • Your home or work addresses.
  • Your phone numbers.

This information can be used to track you or to find out more about you. Hackers need just a little information about you to start going after you. And anyone in the world, including jealous exes, stalkers and scammers, can look up your data to learn everything there is to know.

There are countless people search sites out there. So how do you protect your data? Tap or click here for our list of people search sites with detailed instructions on opting out.

The same rules apply to your photos. Don’t take a picture in front of your house or the building where you work. Those photos could be used to pinpoint your location.

4. Don’t click on that ad

Scammers post ads that appeal to the things people want most: money and a good body. Follow this basic rule: any social media ad promising wild riches and six-pack abs is probably a scam.

Click the ad and you’ll be taken to a malicious website to enter personal information. Or you’ll get a link that downloads malware to your device. Report suspicious-looking ads and move on.

Cryptocurrency is a popular lure on social media, and you’ll see it associated with well-known figures and celebrities. Stay far away from any ad or profile that mentions crypto. If someone messages you about making money, losing weight or getting more followers, just block them.

RELATED: Have any crypto invested? Beware of bugs that give criminals free rein to steal it

5. Don’t take the bait

People love to argue on social media, and it can be harmless enough if it’s a debate on something like the best type of cheese to use in a grilled cheese sandwich. But things can heat up very quickly.

Arguing with someone you’ll never meet in real life serves no purpose but to stress you out. There’s also the risk of angering them to the point where they come after you.

“Doxxing” is the act of revealing identifying information about someone online, such as their name, home address, phone number and employment information and then sharing all that data with the public. If you push some people hard enough, they may doxx you.

If an exchange on a public post or private message starts getting out of hand, just back off. Nothing good will come of it. Some people live to troll by baiting people into heated exchanges. Ignore them and block them if necessary.

If you get any threatening messages, take screenshots of the conversation and report that profile immediately.

Bonus tip

The new version of drunk dialing is drunk posting. What looks fine or fun at midnight may cost you a relationship or your job the following day.

Bottom line: Don’t drink and post!

Ready to call it quits on Facebook? Tap or click here to get all your photos and videos off of Facebook before pulling the plug.

You may also like: 5 online dating tips to keep you safe while you search for The One

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