It’s great to be able to connect with friends and family on social media. How else would you have the opportunity to see your high school BFF’s kids growing up or get your vacation videos out to your extended family? But all that sharing also has multiple risks.

The wrong privacy settings on your account can mean that a predator knows which gym you frequent thanks to a selfie and location tag or some miscreant can copy your profile pictures and pose as you on a dating site.

Over 3 billion people globally use social media each month. (Skyword)

With so many people being on social media it’s a double-edged sword. It means you can connect with nearly anyone you’ve ever known and find new friends online. But it also means there are a lot of unscrupulous people on the platforms as well looking to exploit personal data.

At Michalek Tech Help, our team is often called in to help Kansas City residents with computer virus removal, and quite often it can be the result of a social media hack or scam. Once we eradicate the virus, we make sure our clients know how to keep their system safe from a future infection, including checking privacy settings.

A majority of Americans (73%) worry about online privacy, and 86% have tried to remove or decrease the information they’ve shared. Many aren’t sure where to begin when it comes to safely enjoying social sharing, and the platform makers haven’t always made it easy to know which settings you need to change from a default.

We’ve got a primer below on the privacy settings you need to know if you’re on one of the popular social platforms, as well as things to watch out for to keep yourself and your family safe on social media.

What Should You Watch Out for on Social Media?

One of the first steps to protecting yourself while online is knowing the risks. At Michalek Tech Help, we find that education is the first line of defense against things like identify theft, phishing scams, and other nefarious online traps.

Social media can come with its own set of risks. Here are some of the key ones to be aware of:

  • Friend request from fake accounts (that will spam you)
  • Identity theft and stolen images
  • Profile hacking (21% of people are victims)
  • Malicious apps that steal data (i.e. ”Which Disney princess are you?)
  • Dangerous links sent via direct message
  • Stalkers or thieves gathering real-time location data

Privacy Settings You Should Use – By Platform

Although companies like Facebook (who also owns Instagram) have been working to put more transparency in place regarding security settings, users usually have to dig around themselves to find them, and then change them from less secure defaults.

Here are the settings by platform that you’ll want to know about for a more secure social media experience.

Facebook Privacy Settings

Enable Two-Factor Authentication: This setting can stop hackers from taking over your account by requiring an additional time-sensitive code to be entered at login.

Get there in Settings > Security and Login > Two-Factor Authentication

Hide Your Timeline from Strangers: Set who can and can’t see the pictures or videos you post, see your friends list, or even be able to find you in a search.

Get there in Settings > Privacy > Privacy Settings and Tools

Instagram Privacy Settings

Make Your Instagram Private: Want to use Instagram only with selected friends and family? This setting means only those you choose can see your feed.

Get there in Profile > (the three dots or gear icon) > Settings > Private account slider OR Settings > Privacy and Security > Private account checkbox

Turn off Activity Status: Don’t want everyone knowing your every move on Instagram? Turn off your activity status (which is on by default).

Get there in Profile > (the three dots or gear icon) > Settings > Privacy and Security > Activity Status

Twitter Privacy Settings

Protect Your Tweets: Everything you tweet out on Twitter is public by default, but you can use a setting so that only your followers can see what you tweet.

Get there by clicking your profile icon > Settings and Privacy > Privacy and safety > Protect your Tweets

Remove Location Information: One setting that should be off by default, but you’ll want to double check is one that shows the location you’re tweeting from. You can make sure this is off and also delete any location information that may have been shared.

Get there by clicking your profile icon > Settings and Privacy > Privacy and safety > Location information

Snapchat Privacy Settings

Control Who Can Contact You: Snapchat defaults to only ‘Friends’ being able to contact you directly or view your Story. You can control who contacts you, sees your feed, sees your location, or sees you in Quick Add all in the same place.

Get there by clicking the Gear icon > Settings > Who Can…

Find Out What Data of Yours They Have: If you want to know what kind of data Snapchat is collecting on you, you can download it from their website.

Get there by logging in at > My Data > Submit Request

Get Help with Your Family’s Online Security

Do you have children and aren’t sure if all their social settings are set to keep them safe? Need some help ensuring mobile devices are secured? Contact us anytime and we’ll sit down with you and your devices to set them up for privacy and online safety and give you peace of mind!

Click here to set up a consultation today.