Privacy and social networking sites

Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn offer ways to stay in touch with people you know. They make it easy to share photos, videos, status updates, and links. However, if you use social networking sites, you risk exposing the content you post to the wrong people.

The content you post on social networking sites is public by default. When you post photos, videos, personal information, or status updates, anyone can see them. You must change your privacy settings to restrict content from being publicly available. Chances are, not all of the content you post on Facebook should be public, and it is essential that you change your privacy settings accordingly.

Follow the guidelines below to enjoy the benefits of social networking while also maintaining your privacy and protection.

Guidelines

  • Consider the necessity of posting personal information on social networking sites. Is it necessary to post your phone number, address, or IM screen names?
  • Know that your content can be, and sometimes is, archived. For example, The Library of Congress archives all tweets from Twitter's inception in March 2006.
  • Investigate and use privacy options.
  • Don't post anything online that would make you feel uncomfortable around your family or employer.
  • Don't post pictures of people without their permission.
  • Don't post pictures or videos depicting illegal or dangerous activities.
  • Don't post copyrighted material.

Resources

Controlling How You Share (Facebook)
Learn about Facebook's Privacy Controls and how to use them.

Social Networking Tips (National Cyber Security Alliance)
Information to consider when using social networking sites like Facebook.

Take charge of your online reputation (Microsoft Online Safety)
Tips to determine your reputation online and how to protect it. Note that an increasing trend is for potential employers to do an unofficial online "background check" on candidates to determine their employment eligibility.

Staying Safe on Social Network Sites (US-CERT)
Identifies the risks of revealing too much information online and using social networking sites in general—from giving malicious users access to your personal information to increasing your computer's vulnerability to viruses.

Facebook Security (Facebook)
Facebook page about security issues on Facebook. If you "like" the page, you can have updates from this page appear in your News Feed.