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If there's one thing we've all learned in the past 20 years, it's that the internet is a very dangerous thing. It only really takes one major online gaffe to ruin someone's life for good—or just cause you to go viral and become a millionaire.
Social media, when handled well, can be a great way to promote a product and make people think of you in a positive way. It can be a great way to get in touch with old friends, or just keep an eye on what your buds are up to.
When the wrong people scope your Instagram or Twitter, they can wreck your life. In the past, major scandals have broken out because of social media posts. Robbers use Twitter and Facebook announcements to find out when people go on trips to plan raids.
Needless to say, it's often wise to keep your online accounts super-private unless you're a celebrity or business owner. Though Facebook might hate you for it, this guide will show you how to keep your social media accounts as private as possible.
Before we start, let's be a bit honest about social networks.
Social media is very invasive—and there's no way to completely block out people. If people want to get access to your accounts, they will. Social networks like Facebook may also access your browsing history and advertise as such.
If you are really lukewarm on social networking but very into privacy, you may just want to skip reading about how to make your social media accounts as private as possible and just deactivate accounts. While nothing on the internet is ever really erased, it may be a better option for you regardless.
After all, people can't search you up if you don't have an account they can follow.
So, let's learn how to keep your social media accounts as private as possible starting with the basics.
The easiest way to keep personal accounts super private is to go onto their privacy tabs and toggle the preferences you want to establish. Here's a run-through of where each social media platform will have privacy settings:
- Instagram typically will have the privacy settings under "Account." If you want to keep your Instagram fully private, click "Private Account."
- Twitter will have its privacy settings under "Settings and Privacy." Once there, click on the "Privacy and Safety" tab.
- Pinterest doesn't actually allow for private accounts. However, you can make secret boards by Create Board, then making sure "Secret" is toggled when you make it.
- Snapchat can be made private by going to "Settings," then "Manage Who Can Contact Me," then choosing the setting that allows your friends. Next, to make it entirely private, go to "Manage Who Can View My Story" and set that to friends only, too.
- Facebook is really a mess, but still doable. To tighten this one up, go to the "Privacy" tab, and toggle all settings that keep people from seeing your information, contacting you, seeing your shares, and reposts.
Next, check out the third-party apps you use.
Most social media platforms allow you to link accounts to apps. This sounds great on paper, but in practice, it could easily cause the wrong people to see what you're posting.
Going to the "Settings" tab of just about any platform will have a tab that says "Apps," "Linked Accounts," or "Partners and Third Parties."
Once in, go through each app with a fine-toothed comb. If you don't feel it offers good privacy, disable or uninstall the app. There's no reason why you'd need to keep something running.
Another important thing to realize is that you may need to guard who you add on social media.
All the privacy apps in the world will not help you if you add random people who request you to your account. Part of keeping things private is not letting the world know your business.
Obviously, the issue is that the urge to grow friend lists can be really hard to resist. Fight it with all your might!
Sure, most people won't care what you post on social media—but for the strangers who do, you have to realize that they may not have your best interest at heart. If you don't know them or don't trust them, don't let them follow you.
Do what you can to detach your name from social media.
If you are really trying to make a point of avoiding any sort of issue with your online presence, don't ever mention your name online. With platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, this might not actually be possible without risking your account being banned.
However, with platforms like Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr, it's very possible to have a "throwaway" account that has nothing connected to your name. This takes some discipline, but it's one of the easiest ways to make your social media accounts as private as possible.
While you're at it, don't use your regular email address for accounts that could spark controversy. It can get traced to you.
Drop off the search grid.
A good way to make your social media accounts as private as possible is to limit the number of people who can search you up. This is true for both search engine users and platform users.
If you search through the Settings and Privacy tab on Facebook, the most important question that you can see is: "Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?" Uncheck the box that allows Google to look you up for added privacy points.
Facebook will also allow you to toggle who can search you up on Facebook's user search function. If you want a private account, it's wise to avoid letting random people search you up by name, too.
Most other platforms will not allow you to hide from searches. So, it's important to keep that in mind.
Understand the limits of privacy on these sites.
While you can make your social media accounts as private as possible, there's still some limitation as to what you can do to keep prying eyes away. People who can access your accounts can still screenshot what you post and send it out into the world without your knowledge.
In many cases, people will still be able to search you up. Corporations also may use special software to find your accounts, and may even have some ways of finding out what your presence is like.
Knowing that privacy settings still have their limits should tell you a lot about how to behave online.
The reason why social media impacts journalism so much is because nothing on this kind of technology is ever private. Leaked nude photos, leaked "private" conversations, and even leaked transactions have turned newspapers into social media circuses.
Simply put, anonymity doesn't really exist online anymore in most cases. This is doubly true on sites like Instagram or Snapchat, where a simple screenshot can preserve words that you wish you never said.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid saying or posting anything you wouldn't want your mother to see. By keeping things non-controversial, you're helping yourself make your social media accounts as private as possible.
Additionally, security experts warn people against posting status updates that include your phone numbers and profile photos that have telling details about your location. These little clues often can leave you at risk for serious problems if seen by the wrong people.
Oh, you should also block people who skeeve you out.
Sketchy people are not people who you should allow to follow you on any account you own. If you have people in your life who keep approaching you online, learning how to block people on each platform can help add a nice layer of privacy.
Finally, you should keep working with good cybersecurity methods.
Cybersecurity is one of the most important aspects to learn if you want to make your social media accounts as private as possible. All the little details you tried to hide will become very public if hackers get into your account.
At the very least, make sure you use two-factor authentication, keep passwords long, and use common sense when it comes to your computer use. Oh, and if you use mobile platforms, make sure to hack-proof your phone.