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How to stay safe on social media

By Tare Youdeowei

Across board, staying safe on social media entails using a strong and different password for each of your social media accounts, the longer it is the better. Security answers are better if they are two factor authentications as provided by most social media sites. With friend requests, selectiveness is key, if you do not know the person, do not accept their request, as it could be a fake account. Click links with caution because social media accounts are regularly hacked.  Look out for language or content that does not sound like something your friend would post.

You can go a step further and take charge yourself by pass wording your device, being careful about what you share, ensuring you do not reveal sensitive personal information like home address, financial information or phone number. Protect your computer by installing antivirus software, as well as ensure that your browser, operating system and software are kept up to date. It helps to be familiar with the privacy policies of the social media channels you use and customize your privacy settings to control who sees what.


More specifically, on WhatsApp, you can block contacts from sending you messages without quite deleting their number from your phone. It is said and proven that the easiest way to avoid a particular caller is to save the number, now you can also block them on WhatsApp and enjoy continued peace of mind. Images can also be kept at bay by sliding off the automatic download button. This particularly comes in handy when you are trying to avoid sordid images.

The platform providers however implore users to “Watch out for messages that include misspellings or grammatical mistakes, ask you to tap on a link, ask you to share your personal information like credit card and bank account numbers, birth date, passwords, etc., ask you to forward the message, ask you to click on a link to “activate” a new feature or say that you have to pay to use WhatsApp, WhatsApp is a free app and we will never ask you to pay to use WhatsApp and you do not have to do anything to use WhatsApp for free.”

If a suspicious contact manages to scale all these hurdles and gets across, WhatsApps recommends, “You can also report a contact or a group as spam from their profile information by opening the chat, tapping on the contact or group name to open their profile information, scroll to the bottom and tap Report Spam.”

The platform summarily offers users control; “You can set your last seen, profile photo, status to; everyone, which shows your last seen, profile photo and status to all WhatsApp users. My Contacts, would show your last seen, profile photo and status to your contacts from your address book only while Nobody would not show your last seen, profile photo and status to anyone.”


This majorly picture sharing social media platform says it works hard to keep Instagram a safe and enjoyable place for everyone, as the app managers implore users to use tools they have built and the best practices they have defined to help users stay safe on Instagram.

They provide that; “If someone is sharing photos or videos that make you uncomfortable, you can unfollow or block them. You can also report something that you feel violates our Community Guidelines right from the app. Make sure you know whether your account is public or private. When you set your posts to private, anyone who wants to see your posts, followers or following list will have to send you a follow request first. If someone is bullying you, reach out to a trusted family member or teacher for help. You can also remove a comment from a photo you’ve shared and report bullying and harassment through the Help Centre. Make sure you’re comfortable letting the photos and videos you share represent who you are to a wide audience, such as your parents, teachers or employers. Never agree to do something or share anything that makes you uncomfortable.”

On the safety page of the platform, most of these words are hyperlinks, they are blue coloured and lead you to where you can carry out actual action for your safety.


On Facebook your name, profile and cover photos, gender, the networks you belong to and your user name are always available to anyone who wants to see them or does a search either on Facebook or through a search engine.

You cannot change this but you can restrict your posts, these are pieces of information, jokes, events, shared links that you choose to put on your timeline and your photos to different audiences. Remember if you choose Public everyone can see what you are talking about including people you do not know.

Here, Facebook is particular about privacy settings and enlightens users thus; “Your privacy shortcuts give you quick access to some of the most widely used privacy settings and tools. Click the question mark icon at the top of the page, then click Privacy Shortcuts to see shortcuts that help you manage: ‘Who can see my stuff, who can contact me and how do I stop someone from bothering me?’ This is also where you will find the latest privacy updates and other helpful tools. The shortcuts you find here may change over time to reflect the settings and tools that are most relevant,” Facebook says.



Generally, when using Twitter, think twice before adding your location to tweets, consider stripping Geotag info from your photos before you tweet them, enable Twitter’s privacy and security options, keep personal info out of your profile and remove any 3rd party Twitter Apps you do not use or recognize.

The ambit of Twitter’s safety tools spans, photo tagging which keeps other users from tagging you in photos. One on hand, tagging photos makes them more social but on the other hand, maybe you don’t want personally-identifiable photos of you tagged on Twitter.

However, it is good to note that Twitter is public by default, which means anyone can see and interact with your posts. Protecting your tweets puts your profile on lock so that that only those you approve will be able to see what you tweet, this keeps suspicious users from accessing your posts.

For people finding you, deselect Let others find me by my email address and phone number. Your email address and phone number are hidden, but as Twitter puts it: “The settings let people that already have your email address or phone number find you on Twitter or on third-party services that have integrated with Twitter.” Turning it off means third parties, spammers and marketers won’t be able to see that private information. Deactivate direct messaging, remove any contacts that have been stored in Twitter and delete location information.

Long story short, staying safe on social media requires far more effort than simply being on it or being reckless, nonetheless, these steps can be taken to protect the vulnerable and make online predators powerless.



Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.