3 Simple Ways to Manage Your Privacy on Social Networks

It’s the hottest and reoccurring topic when it comes to social media – especially Facebook. People are either obsessed or completely careless about their privacy on social networks, especially with the launch of dozens of new features on Facebook in the past few months. Other social network users, including those who have accounts with LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+, seem to have less to worry about, though they should still be concerned. If you care about your privacy — both online and off — you can follow these three easy ways to protect your private life, especially from strangers.

Don’t List Your Location
If you’re worried that someone, including those you have never met, may find you in real life by finding your social media accounts, you have a very simple option: don’t list your location. On Twitter, you can opt to not list any location at all, significantly reducing the chance that someone random is looking for you in real life. On Facebook and LinkedIn, consider listing the nearby largest city. For example, I don’t actually live in Seattle, but in a town nearby. However, by listing Seattle as my location on my social networks, my chances of being stalked are slim. Plus, I get the benefit of finding followers who are looking for other users in the big city.

Don’t Use Your Real Name
There’s a reason that people used to list their names in the phone book (you know, that thick book of pages you’re using as a doorstop in the office) using only their first initial. Not only did it ward off telemarketers, but it prevented unwanted harassment. The same thing applies to social media these days. To protect yourself from people you don’t want finding you, consider using only part of your name on social networks. You may even want to go as far as using a fake name — a tactic popular with celebrities and other entertainment professionals who want to keep their private lives, well, private. Just be careful not to use someone else’s name, as social networks can reprimand you, or delete your account entirely, for impersonation.

Don’t Tell Where You Work
For some social media users, listing your place of employment can attract more followers, especially if you work at a very popular company (such as Google). However, if you don’t want attention on social media because of your job or title, or are afraid it can be used by stalkers to track you down in real life, then simply don’t list it. Social media users should also be careful when listing their job on their profiles if they post updates or tweets about topics that their employer may not approve of. Many people have been fired for just this very reason.

Are you worried about your privacy on social networks? Let us know what steps you take to protect yourself in the comments.

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Kelly Clay, author of Blog Without Boundaries, is a freelance writer and lifestyle advisor.