Social media is hardly “private” like the settings suggest. Sure, you can check that box and make your profile private, but really, how guarded are you online? On any platform, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or even a blog site like WordPress, what you do and say will never truly be private because someone is always going to see it. That person could show their friend on their phone. The beauty of a screen shot makes sending your status easy; a pal could send that directly to those who you have blocked…so what’s the point of blocking, right?
One thing that I think is important on social media is opinions. I can admit that I sometimes have a hard time accepting that people do not agree with my opinions and I may not agree with theirs. My key to this and how I cope with it is perspective. Try to see what that person is seeing from their shoes. Try to understand their issues, pretend you’re facing that dilemma, or you were raised that way. Is that person (or you) always right? Not at all. Is there even a right or wrong? We’ll never know. When posting opinions online on any platform I firmly believe in having an open mind first before judging.
Having said that, my other tips for online privacy and safeguarding are pretty straight forward:
- Befriend those you know personally. If that person has 3 mutual friends but you’ve never seen them a day in your life, odds are you don’t know them enough to let them see, read, and engage with you online. There are some exceptions to this, I’m guilty of adding people I don’t know from meeting face-to-face. But they may be a connection for a job, which I think is acceptable in order to have easy communication with that person.
- Be aware of your followers. If you have followers that are spam or people who you have had a problem with in the past it’s okay to block them. I’ve come across a stigma of people who feared blocking someone who often sent them rude comments online. No one should have to tolerate that behavior and if it escalates enough, there is always a path to contacting the platform directly to have the problem solved.
- Aesthetic. I have talked about this before in Social Media class, but your online aesthetic will say a lot of who will follow you and what you will get out of your social media. If you post about horses (like me!) you’ll have a lot of followers who also ride horses, obviously. If you post about politics, you’ll get people who want to talk politics. Be aware of those people, as stated above. If you start to dislike the feedback you get, consider what you are posting first and make a change.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Aretha had it right. Respect those who you follow and befriend. All of the tips above can be merged with this. Don’t like what you see? Are you tempted to post a rude comment? Unfollow/Unfriend that person. Social media is user generated. You make it what you want. You get to chose what people see and what people don’t see. Be smart about it and remember to respect those that you invite in to your own virtual world.