Now a day social media had become the middle man of connecting people it also present new opportunities for the way people share personal information. Sharing personal information is the key of interacting with other people in social media.

So Share with me What you Share

Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram play a major role in our day to day lives. We like to take photo before we eat and post them on social media, we like to share our best moment with our friends and family through social media, we even use social media to know and ‘stalk’ what our friends and family are doing. But do you know these could cause some privacy risks that threaten your personal information?

I personally don’t like to take photo of my food before I eat, even though if I do I usually keep them in my photo album rather than posting them online. I like to spend great time with my friends and family too, I post some of these meaningful and memorable photos on my social media account to record and show my other family members and friends. You sometimes need to post something online to prove that you are not ‘dead’ (LOL!).

But are these all personal information I share? Unfortunately, no. I still remember the moment I clicked sign-up with submitted an application form that contains my password, contact information such as e-mail, contact number, birthday, gender, and even ‘What’s my mother name’.

Where they keep my personal information, did they protect them or…

Social media company keep your personal information in big databases and ‘pull’ them out when needed. Interesting heh, have you ever wonder if these databases were compromised or these personal information we share were used for company’s revenue? Social Media did not protect your personal information, user should take responsibility of what we share, but social media’s company like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram does.

I personally do trust security implemented by these social media platforms company. Take a look on this article on how Facebook protect their user from hacker and also this about Instagram security implementation. These social media platforms not only implement security on their side but also educate their user about how to protect themselves from identity thefts. However, technologies, algorithm or encryption they use to protect user personal data are mean to be secret.

‘Security is just an illusion’ – is a widely used term in hacker’s community. So no matter how many security were implemented there’s always exception, for example the incident that happened on Twitter that nearly 32 million of Twitter account might be hacked, data breached of Facebook about 50 million that affected United States voters and also Instagram Data Breach incident. These attacks aim to take over user’s personal information for hacker’s profit and also politic influence.

Take a look on privacy policy

Back in my old days when I was taking CAB230 ‘Information Security’ unit in QUT, I did researches on social media privacy policies. An interesting fact that I found out on these three social media platforms is that by default they turned on the ‘sharing’ option that allow them to save user personal information for further usage such as providing advertisement that suits user’s interest also sell or share this information to cooperate third-party for analytical and marketing purpose. Think again, if the product or services is free than probably you are the product. Although these social media’s companies always mention they only use information that user authorized to share, all usage of personal information are actually included in privacy policy.

There’s a research conducted by Pew Research Centre about public knowledge of technology and the web that actually half of online Americans don’t know what privacy policy is. “52% of internet users believe that privacy policies actually ensure the confidentiality of their personal information. (In fact, a privacy policy is simply a legal document that discloses how customer data is managed and used.)” – Aaron Smith. Australian Government website mention that “information you share online may be permanently recorded. Even when you deactivate your account, the information you shared may remain in archived or old versions of websites, or in comments you’ve made on other people’s pages”. The guidance provided by Australian Government is to read the privacy policies of the social networking sites user use and choose the privacy settings that best suit user’s needs.

It’s creepy, but it’s true your personal data actually have a lot of values, in this Big Data era. Be responsible and considerate personal information you share doesn’t only affect you but also other people.

Protect yourself, choose what you share

If you search online about how to protect your personal information you come out with a conclusion – you have no choice and option but to trust social media’s company security since you are using their service and product but you can protect yourself, by choosing what to share. Here’s some tips I concluded to protect your personal information:

  1. Read and understand privacy policy upon or before using.
  2. Choose carefully what you want to share with the social media’s company, and also what you share online.
  3. Don’t share any sensitive information.
  4. Use different password for each social media platform, just in case if compromised your other account won’t get affected.
  5. Don’t click on unverified links, as they might be compromised or used by hacker to steal your personal information.

Take a look on this article provided by Australian Government, that talks about the definition of personal information and also how to protect them.

Not the end of the world

In my conclusion internet and social media are always dangerous, because you never know what will happen to information you share while you are sleeping and who’s on the side while you are interacting with them. However, you can minimize risk by taking steps to protect yourself rather than just overly trusting social media to protect your personal information. Everyone should be responsible to their own personal information. Tell me in comment what you think, do you trust social media to protect your personal information or you would rather trust yourself?

Lastly, I would like to provide some links to privacy policy to help understanding.