Social Media Safety Tips

Social Media Friends Circle
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are means of staying connected with friends and sources of entertainment, but they do come with some risk to your privacy.  TikTok especially has been in the news lately, but other social media apps also can pose a risk to your privacy, such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and even some weather apps. They all collect a lot of information about you, and all have been involved in privacy issues and data breaches in the past, and will continue to into the future.

TikTok Note: Some Canadian governments and organizations have banned TikTok from being installed on their managed devices, including the governments of Nova Scotia and Canada. MSVU recognizes that departments do use TikTok for a variety of purposes. It is recommended that you use TikTok through your web browser. Please contact the IT&S Help Desk with any questions on using TikTok on MSVU devices.

Here are some tips on using social media safely:

App privacy settings and policies change often. Periodically review your privacy settings in your apps so that you are sharing the right amount of information with the right people only. Avoid privacy settings that publish your content so all can see it. You just may be sharing your personal details with scammers using social media to collect information about their targets for scams like phishing and identity theft. (That Facebook post that asks you to share what year you graduated from high school or what your astrological sign is could be gathering that information about you for use as part of a scam.)

Phone apps potentially have a lot more access to your information than if you access their websites in a browser. Apps may be able to access your GPS location to know where on the planet you are within a few meters, for instance, and while the website will know your IP address which can show vaguely what city you might be in, you could also use a commercial VPN to mask your true location.

Before you install a new app, check its rating in the app store and the number of people that have downloaded the app. Also, check whether the app has been verified by your app store. These all help you to judge how reliable an app is. When installing an app, review the permissions it is requesting, and if they seem excessive for what it is, then consider not installing it.

Some apps are malware, plain and simple. The app stores cannot catch them all, so make sure to only install reliable apps, and use antivirus security software on all your devices, even Apple devices and computers.

Periodically review what apps you have installed and remove any that you do not use anymore. This will reduce the chance that your personal information is exposed.

Scammers and stalkers can access or take over accounts with weak passwords. Use unique, long, and strong passwords; using a password manager helps you do this.

Multi-factor authentication adds a second layer of security to your strong password. Use it whenever it is available to protect your privacy.

We recommend enabling auto-updates on all your devices. Alternatively, you should regularly check for any software updates and install them manually. This will help protect you.

Awareness is your best defense when it comes to cybersecurity. Stay informed with current news about social media and take the free cybersecurity training offered to all MSVU students, faculty, and staff.