HOW TO USE THE SOCIAL MEDIA SAFELY WITHOUT COMPROMISING YOUR PRIVACY?
One thing is clear: Nothing is private in the Internet.
And, nothing is free in this world.
If anything is given free, that means they are getting revenues through some other way in that free medium.
Let me give some examples:
Google, Yahoo, Outlook, etc, offers mail and/or blogging platform free. They have hundreds of employees to manage them. How do they pay for them and gain profits by giving the mail or blog free to us?
Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Instagram, etc offers free social media platforms in which we can enjoy so many facilities free of cost.
How do they manage their heavy expenses in running such huge platforms without collecting any money from the users?
This is similar to the free or subsidized newspapers distributed in our cities. Have you ever thought how they offer a newspaper free or for just one or two rupees?
They manage their expenditure and profits through releasing plenty of advertisements in almost all the pages.
Similarly, these free online platforms also show many advertisements in the free mail or blogging platforms. They get their revenue through ads customized according to your interested areas.
They may not get good revenue if they just show any advertisement to the users. They should show an advertisement in your device based on the topics/ keywords about which you are searching or referring in the internet more.
For example, you would have visited a property site to look for a rental home today. After that you may visit your social media page. Your news feed will show you the advertisements related to homes in your locality.
You searched for home in another site. How did these social media sites show the ads related to homes? How did they know that you are looking for a home?
This is done by the tracking cookies. Tracking cookies are small files that are left by every site you visit using your device. These cookies are usually harmless and they will not harm your device.
These cookies track the types of websites you visit, the comments you make in sites, the sites you LIKE, the messages you send, etc.
Based on those data, the site shows advertisement whenever you visit that site.
This tracking is done only to know your preferences and the topics of interest. They will not interfere in any of your other activities in the internet.
Even when you are reading an article, the keywords related the article is found and the relevant ads are shown. For example, if you are reading about cancer treatments, ads are shown about cancer hospitals, medicines, etc.
Even if you click the LIKE buttons for a post, the advertisement networks identify in which topics you have interest.
These data are stored by the advertisement networks owned by Google, Facebook, etc. and this is like your horoscope of your online life.
Therefore, you can’t avoid getting tracked by these advertisement networks since they do no harm to you with this tracking.
The privacy issues arise only when you use the internet to share sensitive details about yourself and your friends, relatives, etc.
You must remember, when you share your personal or official photos or details in the social media, they are stored in their server. That means, your confidential details are in their hands.
A responsible website will not use those details for any wrong reasons. They use them only for the choice of advertisements to be shown to you.
However, there is a black market that target the data of the followers of the social media. They make some third party apps for the social media accounts and gain access to the data of the users stored in that social media website and sell them for the campaigners.
Though the Popular Social media websites are responsible companies who protect our shared data safely, we can not rule out our own responsibilities in having certain principles in using the facilities in internet.
Let us see some precautions that we should take to avoid our privacy getting exposed in the internet:
(1) First, we should know that we are not private in internet. Whatever you type is stored and followed by different programs in the internet.
(2) Do not install doubtful and unpopular apps and plugins that have extra codes that can violate the norms. Install only the apps from reputed companies like Google, Facebook, WordPress, etc.
(3) These popular companies are permitted to use the data given by you only for advertisement decisions. Hence, usually no risk of getting exposed.
(4) Do not share sensitive personal or professional data in the social media either as a chat message or comment, or post. Do not expose your personal tastes, weaknesses, disputes, etc, in the internet because they will be used to make a picture about you.
(5) E-mails are less sensitive compared to social media because only the sender, the receiver and the mail provider can see the data. Therefore, use e-mails for exchanging personal data. This also can be read by the mail providers or hackers. However, instead of sharing in public, sharing privately through mails is less risky. But, the contents of free e-mails can be used to track your topic of interest for their advertising purposes.
(6) If the matter is too sensitive or personal or too confidential, use some slang words to discuss through mails that can not be understood by others.
(7) Use social media only for sharing less sensitive details that are suitable for anyone to read them.
(8) Use your Long shot and slightly vague photo as your profile picture if you keep your photo away from the misuse by others.
(9) Do not share your identity details such as Tax Number, Bank account number, Citizen number, Phone number etc publicly in your account.
(10) However, it is advisable to give your phone number to the e-mail or social media company in the settings page BY KEEPING THEM AS PRIVATE TO BE SEEN ONLY BY THE COMPANY because they will be able to send messages if any doubtful activity happens to your account. Only the public sharing should be avoided.
(11) Just use the social media for harmless discussions and sharing that can be read by anyone. Do not use them for secret activities because nothing is secret in the internet, particularly, in the social media.
(12) Do not post the photos of all the celebrations in your family and avoid posting the pictures and details of even small children because there are people who target the children also.
(13) Do not be emotional whenever others praise you. They may be fake accounts who are pretending like authentic accounts. To avoid these fake followers, you may add only the persons who are known to you or who have good standing.
(14) If the social media companies or any other internet site ask for your data to sign up in their site, give your name, Place, mail id only. If it is a reputed and trusted site, you may give your phone number keeping the settings as private.
(15) Nothing wrong in giving your house address, phone numbers and landmarks to the reputed e-commerce companies because they usually use them to give you better service. However, before using new e-commerce players, think twice and ensure that they are genuine players.
(16) Classify the sites based on their trustworthiness and your necessity. Decide what details can be given to every site based on that classification.
(17) Unless it is necessary, don’t use the signing up facility of a site. Use them as a guest without giving your data to them.
(18) While opening the account in a website, first decide whether it is necessary to sign up. If you decide YES, then, give only the details that are compulsory.
(19) Fill only the compulsory fields in the form to sign up in a website. Leave the Optional fields unfilled. For example, you can sign up to Twitter just by entering your name, country and mail id. No other details are compulsory. If you like to receive security information of unauthorized logins into your account or account recovery options, you can give your mobile number. Otherwise, it is not compulsory.
(20) DON’T GIVE YOUR MAIL PASSWORD TO ANYONE:
A common security mistake done by the users is this: If they ask your mail id and Password, the users think that the password they ask is that of your mail id. If you give the password of your mail id, they will be able to login to your mail account using that password. They ask the password that you are planning to have in that site’s new account, not the password of the mail account. Therefore, enter a new and tough password for that site exclusively. Never give the passwords of your mail accounts or any other accounts in any new site by misunderstanding the options in the sign up form.
(21) Never use the same password in two accounts. If one site is hacked, the hacked password can be used to login to your other accounts also. Therefore, use unique passwords for every site.
(22) Always share less and only the necessary details about you in the social media posts or comments. Too much of details are always risky.
(23) Today’s friend may be tomorrow’s enemy. Therefore, do not succumb to the ‘Love offer trap’ or ‘sex offer trap’ or ‘money offer trap’ by others. Don’t trust anyone unless they are in good standing or they are well known to you.
(24) Recognize the fact that any genuine forum is subject to the internet security risks. Therefore, use the sites only by sharing the less sensitive posts. Avoid photos of yourself unless it is absolutely necessary. You can use mails or messenger if sharing the photo is very important. Avoid posting publicly.
(25) (i) visiting only the trusted sites, (ii) signing up only for the popular and trusted sites, (iii) using the strong and unique passwords for every site and (iv) avoiding giving sensitive data publicly in the posts or comments even in trusted sites are the FOUR RULES YOU SHOULD PRIMARILY FOLLOW FOR YOUR SAFETY IN SOCIAL MEDIA AND OTHER SITES.
Be safe and careful in the Internet. This will avoid many issues later.
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