Carnegie Mellon University

Social Media Privacy

Last Updated: 01/20/2021

Social networking sites can be a great way to share and connect with friends and family. However, users need to be mindful of the personal information that is being shared and the privacy risks associated with each of these accounts. 

Outlined below are the steps that can take to help keep your most sensitive information safe on social media sites. Use these steps to help protect yourself and keep your information private.

Manage Accounts Securely

  • Configure your privacy settings to your preference: Check the security and privacy settings in your social media apps and websites and enable/disable the privacy settings that you feel comfortable with. You can limit access to your account to only approved friends and enable restrictions on posts so that it is only visible to users of your disgretion.
  • Manage third-party apps: If you use your social media account to log in to other sites or allow apps to access and authorize your account, periodically review those application settings to ensure they aren't authorizing more than needed. Remove any applications that are no longer in use. Only allow trustworthy and secure third-party apps to your account.
  • Use multi-factor authentication when available: Take advantage of social media apps which provide the option to protect your account with an additional layer of security to verify your identity when logging in.

Share With Care

  • Avoid sharing your location through geotagging: Geotagging adds geographical identification data to posted photos, videos, websites, and messages through location-based applications and turns those posts public allowing anyone to view your content. Disable location services in apps or mobile devices when they aren't necessary. 
  • Only friend or follow trustworthy individuals: Don't accept friend or follow requests if you are unsure who the person is or if their account looks suspicious. Block or report suspicious accounts.
  • Don't overshare information: Some things should not be posted or shared on social media. You do not need to add things like your full birthday, phone number, where you've lived in the past, and where you work on your social media profile.
  • Watch out for tagged posts: Enable settings that allow you to review tagged posts before they are shared. Watch what you are tagged in and don't approve tags that share more than what you are comfortable with.
  • Beware of compromised accounts: Be wary if you receive a suspicious message out of the blue from a friend or someone you follow. If the message contains a link do not click on it. Instead, contact the person directly through a trusted channel such as by phone and report the message.

Be Proactive

  • Protect yourself from harassment: Learn about the options for blocking, muting, and reporting inappropriate behavior on the services you use. 
  • Limit your profile visibility: Use settings that prevent your profile from being publicly searched.
  • Block social media trackers: Trackers are placed by social networks on other websites to follow what you do, see, and watch online. This allows social media companies to collect data about you in addition to what you already share on your profile. Install a secure browser extension that blocks trackers or use Content Blocking in Firefox.
  • Become familiar with the company privacy policy: Social media networks periodically update their privacy policy. It is important to understand how the company is protecting your privacy.

Social Media Privacy Resources