ImageMillions of people check into at least one social network several times a day, with many checking into multiple networks frequently throughout the day. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ are the most commonly used networks, but there are dozens more out there that see frequent use. Social networks are a great way to keep up with friends and family, share important news, and reach potential customers. Unfortunately, they’re also ripe picking grounds for those looking to prey on others. Identity thieves, stalkers, and other unscrupulous people spend hours looking for their next victim. Sadly, all it takes a little oversharing and you could become a victim. Staying safe on social networks requires more than just a good password; it requires striking a balance between sharing enough without sharing too much.

Tips for Staying Safe on Social Media Networks

  • Connect only with people you trust. While networks like Twitter and Pinterest are typically safe for connecting with strangers because of the limited amount of personal information shared through them, sites Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn typically share a bit more information about you. On those networks, keep your connections to people you can trust.
  • Change your privacy settings. Most networks offer very little protection when using the default privacy settings. The moment you sign up, go through the account settings and set everything so that only specific people can access your information.
  • Keep certain things private from everyone. Certain information should be kept completely off of your social networks to begin with, even from those on your friend lists.  While it’s fun to have everyone wish you a happy birthday, and you do want your high school friends to find you, listing your exact date of birth with your full name (including maiden name) and address gives potential identity thieves an awfully large advantage over you.
  • Don’t broadcast your location. Social networks like 4-Square and the locator service on Facebook are all the rage now, but they’re not exactly the safest feature to activate. Think about it: you’re either telling a stalker exactly where to find you, or telling a thief that you’re not home right now.
  • Remember, there is no delete button on the internet.Think before you post, because even if you manage to delete a tweet or status update from your profile within seconds after posting it, chances are someone still saw it. What happens on the internet stays on the internet…and not in a good way like Vegas.
  • Don’t click on links unless you know where they lead. Social media is a huge link sharing platform, and it may be tempting to click on every potential great deal or humorous cat video. While the majority of the links are actually pretty safe, many can lead to viruses of phishing schemes. Avoid haphazard clicking and only visit trusted sites.