Over the last several months, I have given a number of presentations on how to be smarter online. It is amazing how many smart people do things online that are not so smart.

So, here is my top twenty list of things to keep in mind:

  1. Online, YOU are your best friend. Please don’t be your worst enemy, too.
  2. Protect your privacy. NEVER assume that social media protect your information. A hacker’s dream is getting into Facebook accounts.
  3. Be aware of how many of your online activities are tracked (usually by cookies placed on your devices) — whether they are through the Web, your phone, or your tablet device.
  4. Is it really necessary to keep signing up for so many apps? (every one of them has some kind of info stored on your device). Knock out the ones you don’t use.
  5. Recognize that your smart phone’s GPS is always on, unless you remove the battery. The tracking mechanism still works even if the phone is off.
  6. Separate your professional life (LinkedIn) from your personal life (Facebook). Recognize that employers and potential employers seek out information about you everywhere.
  7. Periodically do a Google search of yourself to see what’s out there!!
  8. Don’t lose track of the time you are spending online and miss out on other tasks.
  9. Think before entering any content through any platform that may prove to be embarrassing, inappropriate, etc.
  10. Remember, information, photos, opinions, etc. placed online:
    (a) are often seen by unintended viewers (“frenemies,” potential employers, etc.).
    (b) have a very long shelf life (even after items are taken down) – posters and bloggers can be relentless.
    (c) may be placed online without your knowledge or permission. Everyone with a smart phone has a built-in camera/video recorder. You may be photographed virtually anywhere without any idea about it.
    (d) may pop up in a Google search if anyone wants to learn more about you. 
  11. Know who your “friends” are. Don’t focus on how many “likes” that you amass as a measure of your self-esteem and popularity.
  12. Understand that some sites ask us to opt-in to be put on a mailing list, be sent offers. etc., while others require us to opt-out whereby WE must uncheck the box. Be vigilant with this to avoid spam. Opt-in is better for us.
  13. Most people have an idea what spam is. Fewer understand the concept of “phishing.” This is where you receive an E-mail with a bogus logo or some other representation of a familiar company, and you are told that your security has been comprised or that a special deal is being offer — just click here. Be very careful. This is a prime cause of identity theft. Go to your company’s actual site and don’t click the link.
  14. Read the privacy policy before you enter personal information at a Web site: How will your privacy be protected? What kinds of information will be made available to third parties?
  15. As a general rule, don’t enter personal information unless you see the site URL begin with https (that s is very important), so that you know it is encrypted.
  16. When possible, use the strongest possible virus protection. It’s much cheaper through online resellers than through the software companies themselves.
  17. Regularly clean out your temporary files and defragment the PC. This makes it harder for someone to uncover information you want discarded. CCleaner is GREAT FREE software (www.piriform.com/ccleaner).
  18. Know what makes a good password:
    (a) Don’t just use your name or combinations of it.
    (b) Use at least six to eight characters.
    (c) Include at least one letter, number, and symbol.
    (d) Don’t use one password for all accounts. If you do, if one is hacked, then … .
  19. Use multiple E-mail addresses: Use one regular E-mail address and others for newsletters, downloads, etc.
  20. When in doubt, don’t press “send” or enter.



4 Replies to “20 Tips for Behaving More Safely Online: Especially with Social Media”

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