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Data Privacy and Social Media Best Practices

Excerpted from LSU Information Security Blog, October 2019

We live in a world of constant communication. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are just a few examples of the many communication platforms we use on a regular basis that store or have access to our personal data. Do you know how to keep your information private in this digital world? Read on to learn what data privacy is, why it matters, and tips to protect your privacy.

Data privacy relates to how a piece of information – or data – should be handled based on its relative importance. Data privacy is important because if your data gets into the wrong hands, bad things could happen that could negatively impact your life. The more information malicious actors can attain about you, the easier it is for them to take advantage of you. For example, using information that you provide online about your location, hobbies, interests, friends etc., a malicious actor could potentially access your private accounts by guessing a password. If security questions have been used for any accounts or as a password recovery mechanism, such information can also be used to answer such questions.

How can I protect myself?

  • Enable and become a master of privacy settings. Keep an eye on these settings, as they update and change frequently  
  • Create strong, complex passwords. Use MFA (multi-factor authentication) wherever available
  • Never share any information online that you consider private, regardless of your privacy settings
  • Know which platforms permit third party processing by reading privacy policies more closely
  • Treat the internet as a public resource. Regardless of your security settings, if you post it online, assume the world can see it
  • Always fully log-out of your accounts when using public machines (e.g. lab computers)

Any amount of your personal data could be used maliciously, so be wary of what you put online and how you secure it. Remember that even photos and videos can reveal information about yourself and your daily routine. Companies collect this type of information, and due to privacy notices often not being read or disregarded by users, perform all types of actions on it without the user’s knowledge. To avoid becoming a victim, it is vital to understand that your privacy is of utmost importance.