My Results: Social Media & Online Sharing

Communicate About Privacy

Talk to friends and family about what information you prefer to keep private, and what you would or wouldn't be comfortable with them posting about you.

Make sure you know your friends' and family's preferences about online privacy. Before you refer to other people in your posts, post photos of them, or tag them in posts or photos, ask yourself how they would feel about the post. If you don’t know someone’s preferences, try to avoid mentioning them on social media. Use this handy decision guide as a reminder:

Everyone has the right to participate in social media. If you are a survivor of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and/or stalking, it is important to learn ways to stay connected while protecting your privacy and security.

Think About Consequences

Before you post information or images on social media, ask yourself:

  1. If this post became public, what would my extended family think? My employer or a potential employer? A neighbor?
  2. For that matter, what will my target audience think when they see this?
  3. Will everyone who could see this have my best interests at heart?

Adjust Your Privacy Settings

Review your privacy settings on your social media and other accounts and on your apps and communication devices, to make sure you're sharing what you want to share. Use these guides to help you identify and change the settings most important to you:

You may want to use different settings for different accounts, on different social networks, or for different apps, depending on how you plan to use them.

  1. Some settings we recommend reviewing include:
    • Location services and frequent places (on apps, sites, and devices);
    • Automatically limiting the audience for your old posts;
    • Sharing your information with third parties/other companies ("marketing affiliates", etc.).
  2. Keep reviewing your settings on a regular basis, and when you get a new account, app, or device, start by reviewing its privacy settings.
  3. Watch this short video to see how location services on your phone can impact you.

On social-media sites, use the privacy settings that limit what other people can post about you, such as:

  • Requiring your approval for people to post on your timeline or tag you in photos;
  • Blocking other people from "checking you into" a place, as that shares your location with others.

Before you post, ask yourself who you particularly want to have see this information, and set the audience for the post to include only those people.

  1. Some social networking sites allow you to create "custom lists" or "circles" in your account settings (such as "close family" or "work friends") that you can post to. (But note that on some sites, like Facebook, each person in a custom list can see the names of the others who can see the post.)
  2. Some social networking sites let you specify that certain friends/contacts your public postings, for example with Facebook's "Restricted" status.

Use these instructions for major social media sites:

  • Help Page for Custom Lists and Restricted Status on Facebook and Instagram: Lists for Friends
  • Instructions for Circles on Google Plus: About Circles

Manage Your Profiles

Close or delete your old social media and other online accounts. (However, remember that your data may still be backed up somewhere, especially if others have reposted it. Closing old accounts doesn't guarantee the information won't be found, it just makes it less likely.)

If you want to post details about your crazy hijinks, air your political views, or be open about your religious affiliation or sexual orientation, but you don't want your employer or your grandmother see it, you can register for social-media accounts using a false name, or have multiple accounts under different names. (Note that this is against the terms of service for some social media sites, so you should check first. If you violate the terms of service, the site can close your account if they find out.) However, there are many ways someone could find out which accounts are yours, so this method doesn't guarantee privacy; it just makes you a little harder to find.

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