Best Practices: Safe Social Networking | Information Technology | University of Pittsburgh

Best Practices: Safe Social Networking

Safety Tips for Social Networking

Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace can be a great way to connect with friends. But there are some social networking safety tips you should always keep in mind.

  • Manage your privacy settings. Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on your social networking sites. They help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way. You'll find some information about Facebook privacy settings at the bottom of this webpage.

  • Remember: once posted, always posted. Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn't want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research found that 70% of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.

  • Build a positive online reputation. Recent research also found that recruiters respond to a strong, positive personal brand online. So demonstrate your mastery of the environment and showcase your talents.

  • Keep personal info personal. Be careful how much personal info you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.

  • Protect your computer. Security start with protecting your computer. Install Antivirus (Symantec Endpoint Protection), available at no cost at the Software Download Service at My Pitt. Keep your operating system, web browser, and other software current. You can use the Pitt Software Update Service to automatically download the latest security updates for Windows.

  • Know what action to take. If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site administrator.

  • Use strong passwords. Make sure that your password is at least eight characters long and consists of some combination of letters, numbers, and special characters (for example, +, @, #, or $).

  • Be cautious on social networking sites. Even links that look they come from friends can sometimes contain harmful software or be part of a phishing attack. If you are at all suspicious, don't click it. Contact your friend to verify the validity of the link first.

Facebook Privacy Settings

Make sure you know how to access and use Facebook's privacy settings. Log in to Facebook, click the Account menu, and select Privacy Settings.

  • Under the Basic Directory Information section, click the View Settings link. Review and adjust who can search for you, see your friends list, see your education and work, and more. When you are finished, click Back to Privacy.

  • Under the Sharing on Facebook section, review who can view your status, photos, comments, posts, and other items. Click the Customize settings link to adjust these options in more detail. When you are finished, click Back to Privacy.

  • Under the Applications and Websites section, click the Edit your settings link. Review and adjust your settings. You may want to pay special attention to the Info accessible through your friends option, which controls what information about you is available to the applications and games your friends use. When you are finished, click Back to Privacy.

  • Under the Block Lists section, click the Edit your lists link. On this page you can block specific users or application invitations.