Protect Your Online Identity

Screenshot of smart phone apps

More of us are using social media to stay connected both personally and professionally. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 69% of internet users in the United States participate in some form of social media—most commonly, Facebook, followed by Instagram—and these users can include current and future employers and recruiters (for college, sports, and jobs) who often use social media to assess employees and candidates. The type of information shared on social media can also provide fodder for phishing attacks and even identity theft.

The internet is forever. Be careful what you’re posting and sharing, and with whom and what you are associating. To someone who doesn’t know you, your social media persona becomes a direct projection of who you might be and can create your online reputation.

Please keep this advice in mind when sharing online:

  • Understand the default privacy settings on the social networking sites you use and how to change them to match your comfort level.
  • Limit or disable the location settings on photos and videos you post to social networking sites.
  • Don’t post photos or videos of inappropriate or illegal activities.
  • Avoid joining online groups where you don’t know all the members or what causes they support.
  • Find out who can access the information you are posting online, who controls and owns the information, and what is shared with a third party.
  • Keep your personal information private. Question whether it’s necessary—it usually isn’t—to share sensitive information such as your birthday, mailing address, phone number, e-mail, mother’s maiden name, sexual orientation, or Social Security number. Consider making up alternate answers to those questions that only you would know.
  • Don’t “check in” to every place you visit. That information could be used to identify you in a vulnerable location.

For more tips on social media safety, see our Social Media Security Guide, and Spring Clean Your Social Media Accounts.

The IT Security Office is always here to answer your questions. Keep watching our website, and connect with us on Twitter.