Wednesday, May 27, 2015

5 Tips for Social Media Privacy

By Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Last month we talked about the purpose of posting on social media. This month, I’m addressing social media privacy.

I hear it a lot. "I don’t want to post online, I’m worried about privacy." "I don’t trust that stuff.” “People don’t need to know what I had for dinner."

You’re right, people don’t need to know what you had for dinner. But people will only know what you put out there. Let me repeat. People will only know what you put out there. But it is imperative that you understand how what you put online can put you in danger of cyber piracy or identity theft.

1- Security question answers.
· You know all those questions you have to answer for the really secure sites: Mother’s maiden name and street you grew up on. Don’t post anything that could disclose the answers to those questions.

· First dog’s name. First car. First anything.

· Maiden names, middle names, any names.

· Social security number, home address, phone numbers, full birthdays.

· Any of this information can be aggregated from what you post, and the good cyber criminals know how to find it. If it’s not your bank site, don’t post it.

2- Always assume that anything you put online will be there forever.
· Texts, posts, videos, photos. All of it will be there forever.

· Even if you delete your account.

· Being aware of this will help you decide whether or not you actually need to post that video tour of your home.

3- Location, location, location.
· Never disclose a vacation before you go.

· Never post pictures while you’re on vacation.

· There have been cases where homes are broken into because someone posted online that they were out of town.

4- Friends.
· Do you know all your friends? Don’t friend anyone you don’t know, and set your privacy settings to friends only.

· If you’re using your social media for your author profile, friending is part of it. Just make sure you post only benign posts that don’t give away too much personal information. Better to post hobby pics and memes.

5- Search yourself.
· Type in your name into Google with /ncr at the end of your name. (i.e. jenniferlovett/ncr)

· NCR erases the geo-locator Google has so you can see what is out on the Internet without the system using your historical search data to skew the results.

I love social media. I think it’s fun and entertaining, and I really like connecting with friends who don’t live where I live. It’s a great tool for building an author’s platform. I’m here to tell you to embrace it, use it, make it work for you. It’s a crucial tool for a writer. But when you use social media, just be aware of the possibility of cyber crime. Privacy, security and branding can coexist. You can build a brand online and post interesting, thoughtful and funny posts without giving away the farm. Be cognizant of what you are posting and think about whether it could ever be used against you. If you get the little, funny feeling in your belly, then don’t post it. If you don’t get that feeling, then go for it. Enjoy your online experience; just enjoy it responsibly.

If you ever have any questions, please feel free to ping me on any of my social media outlets. Happy & safe posting!

About the Author: Jennifer Lovett Herbranson has marketed books, shows, concerts and more for more than 15 years. She is a huge fan of Twitter, and passionate about helping authors understand marketing. Find more about Jenny at

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