Master Social Media Without Sacrificing Your Privacy
PC Magazine|September 2021
Some people have no filter. They’ll conduct the most personal phone conversations at maximum volume on the subway. Or they’ll regale perfect strangers with the excruciating details of their latest medical procedures. Most of us, though, have a better idea of how to maintain privacy for ourselves and our friends. But do you take the same attitude on social media? It’s easy to notice that you’re too loud on the phone in public, but it’s less easy to realize that your settings let any schmo read your social media posts. And yet protecting your privacy on social media is important, in more ways than you may realize.
NEIL J. RUBENKING

Perhaps you already know this. Perhaps you keep your privacy settings tuned and never overshare on social media. How about your friends? If they’re careless about their own privacy, their heedlessness can slop over and affect you. Show them this article—post it on your virtual walls! Maybe they’ll shape up.

CIRCLES OF FRIENDS

Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are designed to let you share your thoughts, interests, and pictures with your friends. Unless you’re a Kardashian, you don’t want to share your every brain-blip with everyone in the world, so privacy settings are important. Maybe you feel you have nothing to hide: Consider the fact that if you don’t control access to your posts, they’re fully available to advertisers, spammers, cyber-stalkers, and other undesirables.

Unfortunately, your privacy isn’t a priority for social media companies. After all, they make money by selling ads and personal information about their members. Proper privacy can interfere with a social media company’s ability to monetize the time you spend on its site. You need to put yourself in charge of your social media privacy.

You want the “Goldilocks” settings—private enough to keep out the hoi polloi but not so private that you can’t share with friends. Just how you achieve that balance depends on which platform you’re using. And bear in mind that on any platform, the implementation of privacy settings can change. What you need to do is walk through the options offered by the platform and use some common sense.

Unless you’re a Kardashian, you don’t want to share your every brain-blip with everyone in the world.

The most important privacy setting is the default audience for your posts. If this is set to public, you have zero privacy. Configure it so only your friends can see what you post. You may be able to fine-tune the audience even further: For example, you might limit access to a subset of your friends or exclude specific friends. These options are all typically available on a per-post basis, so if you want to defy the default for an individual post, you can.

Shutting down the firehose that’s spewing your posts out to the world is a good first step, but there’s more to consider. Who can see your friends list—just friends, friends of friends, or anybody? Who can tag you in photos or posts? If Cousin Eddie tags you as a photo of a blobfish, do you get a chance to veto the tag? Who can share your posts? That last one’s especially important if you have impulsive friends with poor security habits.

OFF-FACEBOOK ACTIVITY

Your social media provider may offer privacy help. It’s a win for the company, really. Its press releases can tout its commitment to privacy, while in the back room they know that not many people will take advantage of privacy help. You can tighten your Facebook privacy using the company’s Privacy Checkup and Off-Facebook Activity tools, for example, and Twitter’s Privacy Center offers videos on privacy.

You don’t have to worry about the privacy of your Google+ account anymore, since the service shut down in 2019. Chances are good that you interact with Google in many other ways, though. While you’re thinking about social media, checking the privacy of your Google account couldn’t hurt.

Even when you’re confident you’ve got the perfect balance of sharing and privacy, don’t rest on your laurels. Make a quick pass through the settings now and then, in case the provider has made an unexpected change.

SOCIAL BROADCASTING

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM PC MAGAZINEView All

TorGuard VPN: Affordable and Robust

REVIEWS/SOFTWARE&APPS

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
October 2021

How to Deal With a Swollen Laptop Battery

Lithium-ion batteries pack an amazing punch for their size. They’re robust enough to run our laptops for hours on a single charge, they’re at the core of the latest smartphones, and they even serve as the power plant behind cutting-edge electric vehicles such as the Tesla line.

8 mins read
PC Magazine
October 2021

HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY FROM THE INTERNET

It’s not just government spying; big-tech behemoths including Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have collected huge amounts of people’s data in order to serve up targeted ads—and then, there’s the personal data that’s scooped up in all the breaches and hacks.

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
October 2021

Framework Laptop: True Modularity

REVIEWS/HARDWARE

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
October 2021

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14: Blazing-Fast Gaming Machine

REVIEWS/HARDWARE

9 mins read
PC Magazine
October 2021

Demand for SpaceX's Starlink Satellite Internet Pushes Wait Times to 2023

Demand for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband system may push wait times into 2023.

1 min read
PC Magazine
October 2021

HAS A CYBERSTALKER TAKEN OVER YOUR LIFE? HERE'S HOW TO GET IT BACK

Picture this: You enter your house and find a stranger (or an enemy) sitting at your kitchen table chowing down on your leftover potato salad and reading your mail. You order him out, but before long, he’s back.

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
October 2021

HP Instant Ink vs. HP Plus vs. HP Smart: Which Ink Program Saves You the Most?

When you buy and install an HP printer, the setup routine may ask you to make some choices depending on the printer model.

8 mins read
PC Magazine
October 2021

Vilo Mesh: Very Affordable

REVIEWS/HARDWARE

6 mins read
PC Magazine
October 2021

Polaroid Now+: A Terrific Tool

REVIEWS/CONSUMER ELECTRONICS

6 mins read
PC Magazine
October 2021
RELATED STORIES

MICROSOFT SHUTTING DOWN LINKEDIN IN CHINA

Microsoft is shutting down its LinkedIn service in China later this year after internet rules were tightened by Beijing, the latest American tech giant to lessen its ties to the country.

1 min read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

Can twitter get us to be nice?

Social networks are all designed to make people angry and keep them coming back for more. Now, one of the worst offenders is trying to be less of a hellscape

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
October 18 - 25, 2021

FACEBOOK UNVEILS NEW CONTROLS FOR KIDS USING ITS PLATFORMS

Facebook, in the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will be introducing several features including prompting teens to take a break using its photo-sharing app Instagram, and “nudging” teens if they are repeatedly looking at the same content that’s not conducive to their well-being.

3 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #520

A Potent Portable

EVEN AS TVs grow ever-larger, the projector category continues to be an active one, with more recent designs like ultra-short throw models giving viewers an alternative to room-dominating hangfrom-ceiling setups.

10+ mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

OLED For Less

SONY’S NEW XR-65A80J OLED TV isn’t a member of the company’s Master Series—that designation belongs to its XR-A90J OLED models, which are spec’d to deliver higher brightness than the XR-A80J sets. And while we haven’t yet tested those pricier Sony OLEDs, the XR-65A80J is far from being a second-class citizen. Read on to find out why.

10+ mins read
Sound & Vision
October - November 2021

AUSTRALIA WANTS FACEBOOK HELD LIABLE FOR ANONYMOUS COMMENTS

Australia’s prime minister described social media as a “coward’s palace” and warned that digital platforms including Facebook should be held liable for defamatory comments posted anonymously.

2 mins read
Techlife News
October 09, 2021

EX-FACEBOOK MANAGER CRITICIZES COMPANY, URGES MORE OVERSIGHT

Haugen's accusations were buttressed by tens of thousands of pages of internal research documents she secretly copied before leaving her job in the company's civic integrity unit.

9 mins read
Techlife News
October 09, 2021

GOOGLE SAYS FLIGHT SEARCH TOOL CAN HELP YOU FLY ‘GREENER'

A basic search for flights will give an estimate of how many kilograms of carbon dioxide the flight will spew from start to finish.

2 mins read
Techlife News
October 09, 2021

OUTAGE HIGHLIGHTS HOW VITAL FACEBOOK HAS BECOME WORLDWIDE

The six-hour outage at Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp was a headache for many casual users but far more serious for the millions of people worldwide who rely on the social media sites to run their businesses or communicate with relatives, fellow parents, teachers or neighbors.

5 mins read
AppleMagazine
Ocotber 08, 2021

GOOGLE IN COURT TO APPEAL EU'S 2018 ANDROID ANTITRUST CASE

Google headed to a top European Union court this week to appeal a record EU antitrust penalty imposed for stifling competition through the dominance of its Android operating system.

2 mins read
AppleMagazine
October 01, 2021