A few weeks ago I met someone who found herself the center of a news story after posting an update to Facebook that she assumed only her friends and family would see. Not too long before that I met someone whose personal photo – shared via Facebook – ended up making national news.
In a recent blog post my colleague Amanda Brannum noted that media regularly troll social media feeds for story ideas; a fact recently confirmed by a reporter I met. During our time together, he kept half an eye on the Twitter feed on his phone. If you’re looking to get your story out there, there’s no doubt that social media is an important tool. But if you’re not so keen on your personal story making the spotlight, here are some important things to keep in mind so the media doesn’t find you:
1. Regularly check your privacy settings. It can be difficult to keep track of all the changes on various social platforms, but checking your privacy settings at least two times per year is a great start. Haven’t done it in awhile? Do it today and mark your calendar to check back in six months from now.
2. Don’t include personal information in your profile. It’s a best practice to leave identifying information like your mobile number and address, even full birthday, marital status and hometown off your social media profiles. This information is enticing not only to media looking for stories, but could be valuable to identity thieves, too.
3. Disable all GPS and location settings. Want to keep your home address private, or keep your favorite coffee shop a true haven? Disable the location function on your phone and your social media apps. It’s true this might create a few extra steps next time you want an app to know your location (nearest Starbucks, anyone?), but it saves you from sharing your location every time you post a photo or an update.
4. Create checkpoints. Protect your tweets, make your Instagram photos private, and set it so that you have to approve tags or posts to your timeline in Facebook. You call the shots – and if you want to protect your privacy on social media this is a great place to start.