"Cowards falter, but the danger is often overcome by those who nobly dare." Elizabeth, Queen Mother. Social media and what it has done for human relationships is incredible. Of course, on the flipside of that is discretion. Safety is critical.
People tend to think that connections that are made through social media are not based in reality. That couldn't be any further from the truth. With that being said, we need to be constantly cognizant about who we trust and what we divulge online. It is important not to trust online connections before building a strong and solid foundation in the relationship.
There are some wonderful people whom you will meet online and with whom you will interact and build a relationship. However, there are also other people who misrepresent who they are and what their intentions are. In order to be safe, there are some things that you shouldn't do. Some of those things may seem inane but are actually far more important than you would imagine.
- Posting your entire birthdate in your profiles: Sharing that information will make you an easy target for identity thieves. They could potentially gather information about you and could even get access to your credit card account or bank account. If you happen to already have your full birthdate on your profiles, you should go to your profile page, click on the Info tab and edit out the information. Go to the Basic Information section and click on "show only month and day" or leave out the birthday altogether.
- Avoid using an obvious password: When choosing a password, make sure that it isn't one that would be easy for other people to figure out. You should use a combination of numbers, letters (upper- and lowercase letters) and symbols.Your password should contain a minimum of eight characters. If you insert some of the numbers and symbols into the middle of the password, it will be much difficult for other people to crack.
- Don't mention your child's name: This is an especially dangerous practice. If someone else mentions your child by name online, delete it as soon as you see it and ask that person to never do it again.
- Divulging when you will be away from the office: If you post all of the details of your upcoming time away, you are basically saying "Rob me, please." It is ok to share details of your vacation after you return but not before you go. Criminals love when you make their job easy!
- Important information on your laptop: If you have the attitude regarding your laptop that it will be stolen at some point, you will never be in danger of losing irreplaceable information because you will be careful not to put any on your laptop. You can't lose what you don't have on your laptop. It is a good idea to use a password prompt when you start your laptop and always shut it down completely at the end of the day. You may also want to consider open-source encryption programs such as TrueCrypt for further protection.
- Logging out of social media websites: Once you are done on any of your social media sites, log off completely. Additionally, don't use the same log in for the various social media websites. Remember, always avoid the last four digits of your social security number, your date of birth, your mother's maiden name, your child's name, your pet's name, etc.
Please indulge in social media as much and as often as you would like and need to. Just remember to do it in a sensible and safe manner. There are many people on the Web who want to interact with you in business for pure and selfless reasons. However, there are also other people whose motives are not nearly as pure. Revealing too much about where you are and what you are doing can sometimes be hazardous to your health if you aren't careful. So, use social media to its fullest potential and always have in the back of your mind that caution is a good thing until you have built a relationship with someone to the point of feeling that you can really trust them.
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