Author: Vanessa Taylor, NASBA Risk & Compliance Manager
With more than 800 million people active on Facebook and 145 million Twitter users, it’s likely that social media is an intimate part of your daily life. From checking in at a local restaurant for dinner with your friends to tweeting about your latest find at your favorite store, social media enhances the way we communicate, and makes it easier than ever to share information.
This can be a blessing and a curse. With the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and many other social media sites, information is freely shared with friends and family across the globe. However, in addition to the information you voluntarily place on the Internet, it is possible you could be broadcasting a wealth of information to people you don’t know – without your knowledge. For example, you may not allow your address to be publicly available on Facebook, but did you know your profile picture may contain the exact GPS location where it was taken? It’s part of what is known as “geotracking,” and it gives anyone the ability to track a user’s location through photos or use of coupon sites.
Don’t be alarmed. You don’t have to quit social media all together to keep your personal information safe. We’ve compiled a few easy steps to help limit the amount of personal information you have online, and control who has access to it.
These steps are a great start and should become regular practice, as keeping your information secure is an ongoing process. The rapid emergence of new technologies forces users to be more active than ever in protecting personal information, as the line between what you willingly post online and the information you want to keep offline is constantly shifting.
If you are concerned about your personal information or believe your information has been compromised, you should contact the company, or companies, individually. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also a great resource for individuals and businesses. Its website provides information about fraud and identity theft.
Social media can continue to be a fun and worthwhile enhancement to your life without becoming a security nightmare, but your personal information is only as safe as you keep it. Following the steps outlined in this article is a great start to keeping your information safe and secure in 2012 and beyond.
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