How can I protect my privacy when using social media?

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This article was adapted from content originally written by BC Children’s Hospital for the website.

Social media is a great and easy way to stay connected with friends and family. But, it’s important to know what you should be posting, and think about who may see it.

Once something is on the internet, it can be there for a very long time, and can be difficult to take down. You may give out too much private information without realizing it, so it’s important to know the dangers of oversharing and how to stop yourself from doing it.

When you post anything on your social media channels, consider who can see it. Assume that your post will be seen by four different kinds of people: 

  1. your best friends
  2. your worst enemy
  3. your teacher or your boss
  4. your parents / caregivers

If you don’t want one or more of these people to see it, it may be best not to post something.

As time passes, you might feel that your social media profiles are cluttered and full of unnecessary information. You may want to remove certain information so that it is not so easily available to the public.

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Some things you might want to take down or make private are:

  • photos, videos, posts, or comments that seem unfair or inappropriate
  • posts that include drinking or drugs
  • complaints about previous jobs or school
  • any personal information that might include passwords, combinations or information that shows where you live
  • any post that might be considered mean or unpleasant

Things to keep public include:

  • content that shows you off professionally
  • content that shows your interests (as appropriate)
  • content that shows you have great communication skills

There are more ways to update your social media to make sure you don’t give out too much personal information publicly. One way is to unfollow or unfriend people you don’t know. It can be very dangerous to add someone you don’t know, even if it raises your follower or friend count. Strangers can get access to your personal information that may put your safety at risk.

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Remember that information can remain online for a very long time. This includes private and direct messages. To learn more about sexting or sending intimate messages, check out these resources.