“I’ve Been Looking for You!” Social Media Privacy – and Other Things to Know

Emily Eckert • August 20, 2020

When’s the last time you thought about your social media privacy settings? If you’re like most people, it probably hasn’t crossed your mind since you set up the account. Lately, though, we hear more and more stories about social media platforms gathering our information, or even potentially selling our data. This, however, is not that kind of article. (Sorry, I cannot help with your TikTok account – that is the shadowy place beyond our borders. We do not go there.)

Surely, I can’t be the only one who looks up people online, right? If you’re about to walk into a pitch, your presentation better not be the only thing you studied; it’s important to know the room, too. If you get a cold email from a contractor or prospective client, their online portfolio isn’t the only thing that you’re scanning. Sometimes, it’s just nice to know there’s a real human on the other side of that email.

So, do you know what strangers see when they browse your social media accounts?

Take Another Look

On some platforms, like Instagram or Twitter, it’s obvious when an account is locked down. There, a stranger will only see your name, profile picture, and a few basic metrics (how many people you follow, how many follow you, and how many times you’ve posted).

Facebook, on the other hand, is a totally different beast. You may think your account is private, but a stranger may still have access to your photo albums, your friends list, or even see certain posts. Often, if you share an article from another website (especially news sources), that post will be public. Likewise for Facebook stories – your Instagram stories might be synched to Facebook, too. Review your settings closely to ensure that only the people you want seeing your information are the ones who can!

That Didn’t Age Well

Everybody seems to love the Memories feature on Facebook – it’s a fun bit of nostalgia that people enjoy sharing. But, did you know that you can filter out certain people and dates? If you don’t want Facebook to remind you of particular memories (perhaps a painfully awkward phase), make those adjustments in the preferences on the Memories page.

Many people don’t know that Twitter has an advanced search feature. For early Twitter adopters who may have shared every random or unsavory thought, thinking it would be lost to the Twittersphere forever, you may want to give advanced search a try. Simply input your (or anyone’s) handle, along with key words or hashtags, to see all tweets that apply. You can filter by post engagement, hyperlinks, and more. Trust me, this tool is great for a Twitter cleanse.

Finally, I’d like to reiterate that you, yourself, are the ultimate privacy filter. Do you have some strong opinions to share, or maybe some photos or videos that appeal to your dark humor? Think twice before posting – social media doesn’t have to be forever, but damage to your reputation can last a lifetime.

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