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Data security in social media

What to know about data privacy and social media.

Recent headlines about social media platforms’ use of data may have you wondering if your information is secure. As many social media users are learning, platforms and associated applications are available for free, but in exchange they collect data from their users and provide it to companies who use it for advertising purposes. Here are some tips that may help protect your personal and business information.

What you can do now.

  • Check what data your apps have access to through your Facebook account by visiting App Settings.
  • Review your privacy settings on your device. For Apple users, go to Settings and then Privacy to see what apps have access to your location, photos and other information. Android users can manage app permissions by going to Settings, then App and Permissions.
  • Keep mobile apps updated. Most updates will include security fixes.
  • Get rid of apps you no longer use. Outdated versions could be running in the background on your phone.
  • Make sure the apps on your device have a privacy policy. Privacy policies spell out the company’s commitment to privacy and whether they sell data. They’re legally enforceable and therefore an important feature of any app you download.

What to consider before downloading apps in the future.

Think of each app you download as creating a new door between the outside world and your private information. This may seem harmless enough, but they may be gathering data behind the scenes or even putting your information at risk. Here are some things to consider before downloading that coffee order app.

  • Make sure your operating system is up-to-date with the latest version. This will help reinforce security on your device.
  • Do you really need the app? The more apps you grant access, the more your information might be shared. If it’s not crucial, maybe don’t download it at all.
  • A new app will often ask for access to certain information, like your photos or microphone. Think about whether the request is appropriate: does a flashlight app need to access your calendar to light your way? Probably not. Deny permissions that don’t feel appropriate, or consider finding a different app.
  • Are you downloading from a trusted source? Try to stick to the default source of apps for your device or check out the official website.
  • Look at user reviews. Do the developer and application have a good reputation? Does the app work well enough to warrant the download?
  • Check the app’s privacy policy and focus on the disclosures section. How will they use your information? Do they encrypt user data?
  • Review your privacy settings after downloading an app. Some settings are automatically set as a default, but you can often change them to suit your needs.

What about my business’s accounts?

The same rules above apply, but if your business has a social media presence, here are some additional things to keep in mind:

  • Set up a strong form of double verification for login to your accounts.
  • Ensure you have more than one admin. This could prevent you from losing control of your page.
  • Keep the admin list updated and remove admins who should no longer have permission, like people who no longer work for the company.
  • Do research before using a third-party app on your business’s page. What information will the app access?
  • Change your password often and protect it. Never use the same password for different websites.
While social media sites can be valuable for promoting your business, privacy and protection should be of the utmost importance. Take care to ensure you are following proper security measures and, if you are not, you should consider making changes to your current procedures by following some of the tips above.

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