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Think Before You Share… Using Social Media Wisely

December 01, 2019


To determine how to use social media wisely, first we must define it. Merriam Webster defines social media as forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos). Some familiar examples of social media websites and applications include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Social media provides many tangible benefits such as a platform to stay in contact with geographically dispersed family and friends, communicate with like-minded people, and join online communities to support favorite causes. It’s also a great business tool for networking, communications and marketing. While social media offers many benefits, there is also risk involved, primarily from criminals who use social media to commit and promote crimes. Posting about an upcoming family vacation may seem innocent enough, but it can make your home vulnerable to criminals who target unsuspecting individuals. There is also reputation risk because social media posts cannot be entirely deleted.

It is also important to schedule regular audits of your social media accounts to ensure you are aware of any changes or updates to applications. And, take the time to review your privacy settings, especially if you are signing up for new accounts.

Once you have mastered the safe use of social media, use its power for good. There are many ways you can make a difference and help change the world.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Organize a local service project and promote it on Twitter
  • Raise awareness of causes using Instagram
  • Follow your local politicians or candidates on Twitter
  • Stay connected to your city or town via Facebook.

Keep in mind that you control your social media exposure; how much or how little you choose to share is your decision. Some people decide to limit their social media presence to professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and not share any personal information. Others decide to modify their social media environment by making their presence known to only their closest friends and family and liking only reputable news, information, and entertainment sources. The choice is yours. The dangers of social media are not going away. Platforms are not always readily transparent when they change their policies or entice users with new services and you may be unaware when personal date is being collected. So, it is up to you to be vigilant and choose wisely when using these platforms for personal or professional promotion. Remember to use common sense and think before you post.

Using social media sensibly and safely is not difficult. Here are some top tips from the International Compliance Association (ICA):

Be careful who you friend – don‘t automatically trust friend requests from strangers

Consider your security settings thoughtfully – what controls will you put in place?

Be careful what you post – remember almost anything you post can be re-posted

Think before posting images – do you want your relatives or employer to see them? 

Avoid ideology – unless you plan to be active in the public domain

Think before tagging others – do they want to be tagged online?

Manage your profile(s) – only include the things you really want others to know and don’t post any Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

Don’t trust every link you see – some can take you to infected sites

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