Gone are the days where your parents could creep your MSN conversations as a sneaky result of “chat log” saving. However, with modern social media platforms come modern privacy problems––it’s easy to forget about the simple account settings that maximize your online privacy. Here is a simple guide to conducting a “self-privacy checkup”–complete with pictures and arrows of course– to ensure you are protected on your social media profiles.
Un-link third party search engines from your profile
We’ve all googled our names before out of curiosity, but who else searches your name on a search engine? We know––your family, potential employers, and sometimes complete strangers. If you don’t want your Facebook profile (or your pictures/posts) to appear in a search engine for easy public access, this is an important feature to turn off. Here’s how you do it:
1. Click the downwards pointing arrow on the top right hand corner of your Facebook homepage.
2. Click settings
3. On the left list of links, choose “Privacy”
4. Scroll to the bottom of the page find “Contact Info”. After selecting this option, Facebook will ask, “Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?” Edit this to say, “No”.
Timeline Tagging Review
So you don’t like that picture your friend tagged of you last night and you “hide it from your timeline” so it doesn’t show up on your profile. This action successfully hides it from appearing on your profile, however it fails to remove it from a simple search on the Facebook search bar. Anyone can type in “Photos of _____” and have a myriad of pictures appear, including the ones you set as “hidden from timeline”. To avoid unwanted pictures popping up in this public search, you must “remove tag” under the options of the photo or post.
There is a way to check what your Facebook profile looks like to the public, or even to an individual person on your friends list. Click the icon with the three dots on the bottom right of your cover photo and click “View As…”. A black bar will appear on the top of your timeline giving you the option to preview what your profile looks like and what information is viewable to the public or to an individual Facebook friend.
While Twitter’s geotagging feature is not turned on by default, it may still be active if you are one of those people who liberally skims through terms and conditions or permission pop-ups on your phone apps. Geotagging your tweets gives whoever views them an exact location on where you are tweeting from. Geotagging can be a cool feature while travelling or categorizing data, but it can also lead to consequences like cyberstalking or even home robberies. For example, a user may post that they are on vacation in the Bahamas, and wishes that they didn’t have to come home on Friday. Now any person can not only see that this user is away from home, but also has a timeline of when they are going to be back. Here’s how to check to make sure your geotagging is disabled on Twitter.
1. Click your Twitter profile picture in the top right hand corner of your homepage and select “Settings”.
2. Click on “Security and Privacy” in the menu on the left of the screen.
3. Scroll down to “Privacy” and uncheck the box beside “Add a location to my Tweets”.
4. Click “Save changes”.
5. If your geotagging feature was on, you can delete all past location data from your Tweets by clicking “Delete all location information”.
That’s it! These simple checks and changes can go a long way in securing your privacy when using your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Take action now to ensure your social media is protected.
About Krystina Lau
Krystina is a Legal Studies and Sociology graduate with a passion for advocacy in international contexts.