Chances are if you’re reading Which? Tech Daily then you’re already signed up to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Perhaps you’re a member of all three.
While these websites are all great for communicating with friends, acquaintances and strangers alike, it’s important to be mindful of what you share. Slippery privacy controls make it easy for someone to quickly gather a large amount of information about any particular user – it’s just a matter of trawling across different social networks.
Thankfully, protecting yourself from such nefarious activities is relatively simple. Just follow our step-by-step guide.
Step 1 – find your privacy settings
Left to its own devices Facebook will happily project your posts out to as many people as possible – even when you really just want your friends to see them.
Step 2 – choose who can see your posts
When changing who on Facebook can see your status updates we recommend the Friends option. This restricts your status updates to those people you’ve chosen to connect with, rather than anyone with an account on the social network.
Step 3 – choose who can see posts you’ve been tagged with on your timeline
According to Facebook, what you’ve posted and what people have posted about you are two different things.
Step 4 – change who can see your old posts
Finally, Facebook makes the distinction between new timeline posts (i.e. those you’ll make in the future) to old posts you’ve made in the past. This means you need to retrospectively apply the new settings you’ve selected to past posts. To do this click on the Privacy tab, then Limit the audience for old posts on your timeline and Limit old posts.
Step 5 – add two-step verification to your account
Two-step verification means your account is protected with your password and your phone. This means anyone who cracks your password will still be unable to access your account with a security code sent to your mobile via text. To turn on this feature go to Security, Log-in approvals and Require a security code to access my account from unknown browsers.
Step 6 – check who can find you using your phone and email details
Ever given out your email address or mobile number to anyone other than friends, family or colleagues? Chances are you have and most of us use our everyday email address when creating online user accounts or entering competitions. By default, every Facebook account is set so that search engines can link to your profile and anybody can look up anyone else using these details (say, by typing them into the Facebook search bar). That means that anyone (or any automated search engine) can find and potentially store your details, location and photo – and potentially more data, depending on your settings.
To change this, click the lock icon in the top right of the desktop version of Facebook, then click on Who can contact me? and then See more settings at the bottom of the menu. The Privacy Settings and Tools screen should appear (if not, click on Privacy from the left-hand menu). Check the options that appear under Who can look me up? and click on Edit to check or change the default settings.
In the case of your email or phone details, you can choose the ‘Friends’ or ‘Friends of Friends’ linked to your Facebook account – if you want to be extra secure, don’t let Facebook have your number.
Step 1 – find your privacy settings
Twitter is designed so that anyone can see what you share, not just your friends but fellow professionals and other people who find your posts interesting. That said, it is possible to restrict who sees your posts if you want. Click on the cog icon and then Settings.
Step 2 – protect your tweets
Click on the Security and privacy tab on the left-hand menu and scroll down to Protect my Tweets.
This is really simple for Twitter. Click Send login verification requests, input your phone number, and you’ll then get a text confirming you’re protected.
LinkedIn is essentially meant to be a place where your CV lives on the internet. This means it’s worth thinking about how much you share on there. For example, the year you started university is a good indicator of your date of birth. Editing this information is done in your profile, but Privacy & Security settings are accessed by clicking your profile picture in the top left-hand corner of its homepage.
Click Account on the lefthand menu and then Manage security settings.
Click to turn On two-step verification, confirm your phone number with a code and then you’re all set