How To Practise Good Social Media Hygiene
Fact – your social media posts may affect your career, or worse case, your identity!
New research from the world’s largest dedicated cybersecurity firm, McAfee, has revealed that two thirds (67%) of Aussies are embarrassed by the content that appears on their social media profiles. Yikes! And just to make the picture even more complicated, 34% of Aussies admit to never increasing the privacy on their accounts from the default privacy settings despite knowing how to.
So, next time these Aussies apply for a job and the Human Resources Manager decides to ‘check them out online’, you can guess what the likely outcome will be…
Proactively Managing Social Media Accounts Is Critical For Professional Reputation
For many Aussies, social media accounts operate as a memory timeline of their social lives. Whether they are celebrating a birthday, attending a party or just ‘letting their hair down’ – many people will document their activities for all to see through a collection of sometimes ‘colourful’ photos and videos. But sharing ‘good times’ can become a very big problem when social media accounts are not proactively managed. Ensuring your accounts are set to the tightest privacy settings possible and curating them regularly for relevance and suitability is essential if you want to keep your digital reputation in-tact. However, it appears that a large proportion of Aussies are not taking these simple steps.
McAfee’s research shows that 28% of Aussies admit to either never or not being able to recall the last time they checked their social media timeline. 66% acknowledge that they have at least one inactive social media account. 40% admit that they’ve not even thought about deleting inactive accounts or giving them a clear-out and concerningly, 11% don’t know how to adjust their privacy settings! So, I have no doubt that some of the Aussies that fall into these groups would have NOT come up trumps when they were ‘checked out online’ by either their current or future Human Resources Managers!!
What Social Media Posts Are Aussies Most Embarrassed By?
As part of the research study, Aussies were asked to nominate the social media posts that they have been most embarrassed by. Here are the top 10:
- Drunken behaviour
- Comment that can be perceived as offensive
- Wearing an embarrassing outfit
- Wardrobe malfunction
- In their underwear
- Throwing up
- Kissing someone they shouldn’t have been
- Sleeping somewhere they shouldn’t
- Exposing themselves on purpose
Cybercriminals Love Online Sharers
As well as the potential to hurt career prospects, relaxed attitudes to social media could be leaving the door open for cybercriminals. If you are posting about recent purchases, your upcoming holidays and ‘checking-in’ at your current location then you are making it very easy for cybercriminals to put together a picture of you and possibly steal your identity. And having none or even default privacy settings in place effectively means you are handing this information to cybercriminals on a platter!!
Considering how much personal information and images most social media accounts hold, it’s concerning that 16 per cent of Aussies interviewed admitted that they don’t know how to close down their inactive social media accounts and a third (34%) don’t know the passwords or no longer have access to the email addresses they used to set them up – effectively locking them out!
What Can We Do To Protect Ourselves?
The good news is that there are things we can do TODAY to improve our social media hygiene and reduce the risk of our online information getting into the wrong hands. Here are my top tips:
- Clean-up your digital past. Sift through your old and neglected social media accounts. If you are not using them – delete the account. Then take some time to audit your active accounts. Delete any unwanted tags, photos, comments and posts so they don’t come back to haunt your personal or professional life.
- Lockdown privacy and security settings. Leaving your social media profiles on the ‘public’ setting means anyone who has access to the internet can view your posts and photos whether you want them to or not. While you should treat anything you post online as public, turning your profiles to private will give you more control over who can see your content and what people can tag you in.
- Never reuse passwords. Use unique passwords with a combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols for each one of your accounts, even if you don’t think the account holds a lot of personal information. If managing all your passwords seems like a daunting task, look for security software that includes a password manager.
- Avoid Sharing VERY Personal Information Online. The ever-growing body of information you share online could possibly be used by cybercriminals to steal your identity. The more you share, the greater the risk. Avoid using your full name, date of birth, current employer, names of your family members, your home address even the names of your pets online – as you could be playing straight into the hands of identity thieves and hackers.
- Think before you post. Think twice about each post you make. Will it have a negative impact on you or someone you know now or possibly in the future? Does it give away personal information that someone could use against you? Taking a moment to think through the potential consequences BEFORE you post is the best way to avoid serious regrets in the future.
- Employ extra protection across all your devices. Threats such as viruses, identity theft, privacy breaches, and malware can all reach you through your social media. Install comprehensive security software to protect you from these nasties.
If you think you (or one of your kids) might just identify with the above ‘relaxed yet risky’ approach to managing your social media, then it’s time to act. Finding a job is hard enough in our crowded job market without being limited by photos of your latest social gathering! And no-one wants to be the victim of identity theft which could possibly affect your financial reputation for the rest of your life! So, make yourself a cuppa and get to work cleaning up your digital life! It’s so worth it!!