Are you aware of how your personal information is being shared when you engage in social media activity?

Privacy is a concern for those who use the internet on a regular basis. Have you considered how your personal information is being used and what privacy control is available? Do you realize that many social media websites share your information with other companies?
Many people readily share their personal information without any of this forethought.

In most cases, social media websites will disclose how your personal information is being used, however, this information may not be easy to find. Disclosing information such as your name, email address, home address and telephone number might seem ok, however, do you really want this information distributed to third party   organizations and marketing companies?

When engaging in social media activity, you should seriously consider your privacy, and the implications your actions will have on it. The below list discloses some important information and tips regarding privacy that you should consider when using social media.

Check social media websites privacy policy when you register

Social media websites have a huge variance in their privacy policies – Some sites may share your information freely, whilst others may not share your information at all. To be 100% clear how your personal details are being used, you should thoroughly check the privacy policy before you register with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Ensure you understand and manage the privacy control settings

Aside from the privacy policy, social media websites also have privacy controls that you can edit. It is a wise idea to check these settings and see what you can change. If you are uncomfortable with the default privacy settings and feel your information is too public, you can always manually edit the settings until you are satisfied. Twitter, for example, will allow you to hide your personal email and name on your profile page. Sometimes privacy settings are hidden away but you can usually find them in the general settings or account tab.

Use as little personal information as possible

A simple way to prevent your personal information from being used in ways you do not wish is to use false information or as little as possible. You can sign up to social media websites using a specially created email address that has no association with your real email address. Furthermore, you can use a fake name and address. In most cases, some of the personal information is optional – If you do not want to simply refrain from entering any details at all.

Consider using a VPN service to protect your data and connection

To protect your data, your physical location, and to secure your connection, you could consider using a VPN service when connecting to social media websites. A VPN (Virtual private network) will hide your personal devices IP address and you will never connect directly to the website, only through a secure VPN tunnel. As your IP address (your devices address, similar to a postcode) is hidden, there is no traceability.  Furthermore, any data sent through the VPN is encrypted which makes it virtually impossible for hackers to interfere or intercept your personal information.

Privacy is often waivered when registering with social media websites – Before signing up to any site, you should first consider what information you are disclosing, and how that information will be used. Once you understand this, you can look at the available means of privacy control, and decide if you still want to proceed. Be vigilant! Be cautious! You have a right to a basic level of privacy and should not lightly give this away!

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