It’s a Wednesday afternoon, and you just finished having lunch with a few friends. There were plenty of laughs, old memories, and, of course, a couple selfies.
The conversations stayed between you and your friends, never to be heard or replayed by anyone at any time. The memories you brought up are the same; only to be revisited by you and your friends, and they stay between the people who experienced those moments.
Moments that happen during our day, during our lives, are just that; moments. They can only be looked back upon- you can relive them.
The moments we share, though, can be relived. They can be reviewed over and over, by me, you, and anyone else.
I doubt you’d be fine with some stranger stalking your Instagram account, or any social media profile of any of your friends or family.
Well, this happens a lot. Most of it is harmless- maybe someone interested in asking you out checks out your Instagram to get a glimpse into who you are, or an old friend from college wants to reconnect.
But the thing is, what you post online is always going to be online, and anyone can see that content, even if you don’t want them to.
When you throw a pic up onto Instagram, that picture is online basically forever. Instagram now owns that picture, and you can’t do much about it.
Yes, of course you can delete the picture and it’s gone forever, but are you really sure? Someone may have very easily screenshotted or downloaded that picture for themselves, and who knows what they’ll do with it after that.
That picture could potentially damage your reputation, and if someone posted it on Facebook where everyone and their grandmother can see it, you could lose your job or be embarrassed and have some explaining to do.
Even if someone doesn’t copy any content you’ve posted to social media, they can still learn a lot about you.
Smartphones allow us to tweet and post from anywhere, and you can display your exact location if you so desire. This is a great opportunity for a stranger to keep track of your movements and pinpoint your exact location at any given time.
We tend to think that our posts on social media are really only seen by friends and followers; this isn’t necessarily true, especially if your profiles aren’t private.
If they can view your profile, your information is right there in front of them, and they can track your movements, who you talk to, see what you’re doing at a particular moment, and could use this information against you.
Now, there’s no need to hastily delete pics or tweets or rush to make your profiles private. For the most part, we’re safe.
Since there’s so many of us on social media, the chances of you being the target of a hack or just malicious activity are very, very low; I just want to point out the weak spots that most of us have in terms of our online personas.
To keep yourself safe and away from prying eyes, turn off the location settings on the social media apps you use; if Twitter wants to know where tweeting from, just decline- it’s great that you just found your old favorite sweatshirt, but don’t share exactly where you found it.
If you’re a bit concerned now, making your profiles private is a good way to keep the bad guys at bay. You really only care about showing what you’re doing with your current followers anyway, so you might as well make your social media profiles a little less social.
By doing this you’re ensured that only the people you know and are followed by can view the things you post or tweet, and no one else, but that’s fine because those are the only people you care to share things with, anyway.
When we are on social media, we are broadcasting our thoughts, actions, and even location out to the world. People across the planet can see what we just tweeted, and if our profiles aren’t secure or we naively share where we are at all times, our security, even our lives, may be compromised.
Thus, it is important to limit your social media footprint and thus limit the opportunities for someone to get intimate details about you or do any kind of harm to you or the people you know. So, before you post a selfie with some friends, think about who will see that and what they can do with it; oh, and don’t forget a great filter.
Check out this video on the dangers of social media and decide for yourself.