Protect yourself while using social media

Quick tips for enhancing your privacy on social media platforms

  • Feb. 1, 2012 9:00 a.m.

Did you know that nearly half of those who use social media don’t enhance the default privacy settings on their user profiles? The first step in using social media in a privacy enhancing way is learning how to protect your personal information online.

In recognition of International Data Privacy Day, the Government of British Columbia encourages citizens, private organizations and public bodies to learn some simple tips on how to protect personal information online, and be privacy aware while using social media. Changing your privacy settings on social media sites is one of many ways you can take control over what information remains private and what is accessible to others.

Quick tips for using social media:

• Do not provide any more information than is necessary or asked for. When registering for a service, the necessary fields are often marked with an (*) asterisk. Only fill out these fields.

• Be aware of who is collecting, using or disclosing your information – just because you are on one site, doesn’t mean your personal information will be restricted to that site.

• Personal boundaries are just that – personal. Protect the personal privacy of others by not posting their information, including their name, address, photo, phone number or anything else about them.

• Think of your password-recovery questions. Information commonly used to recover a password should be kept private. This includes your mother’s maiden name, your pet’s name, your favourite books and movies or the street you grew up on.

• Personal details are not necessary to communicate personal experience. Be general when appropriate (in a forum) and detailed when necessary (in a private message).

• Carefully go through your privacy settings and adjust the settings to protect your personal information. Social media sites often update privacy settings so make it a habit to regularly review your profile.

British Columbia was the first province to introduce social media guidelines for public service employees. In addition to being a national leader among provincial governments, B.C. is also well ahead of much of the private sector, where many companies have yet to take this step.

Resources:

For more information about how citizens, organizations and public bodies can protect information and data security, please visit the Office of the Chief Information Officer: www.cio.gov.bc.ca/cio/priv_leg/index.page

A guide for public bodies using social media: www.cio.gov.bc.ca/local/cio/priv_leg/documents/foippa/FOIPPA_GuidePublicBodiesSocialMedia.pdf

By phone, people can access more information by calling B.C.’s Privacy and Access Helpline at 250 356-1851 in Victoria or toll free at 1 800 663-7867.

B.C. Government Social Media Guidelines: http://www.gov.bc.ca/citz/citizens_engagement/some_guidelines_master.pdf

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