Canada’s privacy watchdog offers tips on social media safety tips


The Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) has compiled a list of ways that Canadians can be safer on social media.

While some of these may seem obvious, it certainly doesn’t hurt to review them, especially when social media giants like Facebook are constantly coming under fire over privacy concerns.

Avoid fraud and theft

The OPC says you shouldn’t share personal information like where you live, and to take caution in posting while out of the country, which can let would-be burglars know you’re not home.

Be alert for scams

Fraudsters may attempt to trick people into trusting them by posing as other people, such as through a fake account that uses pictures and details from a real person. Stay vigilant about what these accounts are posting and avoid clicking on suspicious links that they share. Further, don’t share any personal information with them. If possible, verify with the person they’re seemingly masquerading as and report the fake account.

Choose a strong, unique password

The OPC advises that you use a different password for each social media platform. To make the password strong and hard to guess, it’s best to avoid including personal, well-known details about yourself, like a family member or pet’s name.

If you do include personal details, the OPC suggests to pick something a bit more obscure and make it even more secretive by using first letter of each word in a sentence. For example, the OPC says “I always play tennis with 2 friends on Thursdays at 4” could become this password, “Iaptw2foTa4.”

Finally, two-factor authentication is another way to add additional security.

Close and clear out old accounts

If you don’t use an old account, the OPC says you should speak to the company to delete all of your registered data before deactivating it. Simply closing the account won’t clear out your data.

Get consent

Sharing pictures of other people or tagging them on social media can affect their privacy, so be sure to make sure it’s okay to do so with those who are being featured in your posts.

Log off

Make sure to log out of accounts when done with them to prevent someone else from getting access.

Manage your privacy settings

Following intense scrutiny, social media companies like Facebook are giving users more ways to review and manage their privacy settings. On Facebook, for instance, there is a Privacy Shortcuts section that makes it easier to access all of your privacy settings. From here, you can limit who sees your posts, whether information such as location or phone number is visible, turn on two-factor authentication, and more.

Read the privacy policy

As the OPC notes, a social media platform’s privacy policy will outline what information it’s collecting from you, as well what it will do with it and where else it might be shared. Knowledge of the privacy policy will give you a better understanding of what you’re getting into should you sign up. On the flip side, reading something off-putting will give you the chance to avoid the platform entirely.

Review regularly and think ahead

People can get in hot water and even lose their jobs over what they’ve posted on social media, especially if it’s something derogatory about an employer. With that in mind, make sure that what you’re posting isn’t compromising in any way. It can be a good idea to go back and delete or update what you’ve posted in the past, especially if it doesn’t reflect how you are today.

That said, always remember that photos comments on the web can be difficult — if not impossible — to permanently remove. Therefore, it’s best to think carefully before posting in the first place.

Source: OPC