Online With Dock Line

Let’s Make it Your Social Media

You’ve chosen to be social on a social media platform and you have agreed to their terms of service believing that your information is private but, you may have heard otherwise on the news. By now, you probably have an understanding of how algorithms are used to collect and store relevant content which contributes to what you see on your timeline.

Advertisements, local events, and events your friends are interested in are likely seen in your timeline each time you login. Your age, location, and interests may not be public but are needed in order for the algorithms to function correctly. Social media platforms utilize these types of information to create a more personalized page for you.

Perhaps you have concerns about your private life becoming public? If you don’t want to be found you have likely learned not to “check-in” and add your location to your posts and you know how to post so “friends-only” can see it. But what more can you do to feel secure? Gain a better understanding of the technology and how it is used!

The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress last month and his responses have sent many people into a bit of scare asking themselves “ is my private information really private”? Do I need to leave Facebook for another social media platform in order to feel that my information is secure? This isn’t the case. All social media platforms store or retain much of your information, similar to how Facebook does.

While the news is full of ‘privacy scare’ content, we need to remember what drew us to these platforms in the first place. For example, it is easier to keep close to your long distance family and to reconnect with old high school friends. You can receive immediate local information about a lost dog in your neighborhood and know first hand what local events are happening. If Facebook did not have the algorithms that they do, you might not have come across these connections or information that is important to you.

When you receive an email from a social media platform that you have joined, chances are that it contains very important information. Don’t ignore it. Updates and revisions may sound boring and you may not be sure if it applies to you but it does. The social media platforms are doing due diligence by sending you these notifications and it’s important that you pay attention to them. By ignoring these emails and notices, you are missing out on information that may later affect you and then you may be upset because you weren’t aware of changes to their policies. Utilizing public social media means that you are giving them permission to store your information, which they explained when you first sign up and agreed to their terms and conditions. You need to know if and when these conditions change.

What is good to remember is that we, the users, are in control, not the platform. Facebook is built on algorithms that recognize how we are using it, as well as our online searches and thereby, it feeds us what we effectively tell it to. We initiate change through our actions, words, and choices. If we want the system to change, we need to change how we are using it.

So, let’s make it YOUR social media. Secure your social media platforms by only sharing the information that you feel comfortable with whether or not your settings are public or private. Click with caution knowing they contribute to your algorithms and can open your accounts to hackers. Keep your accounts safe by not clicking external links you are unsure of, being especially wary of quizzes and online games posted in news feeds.

Just like Yelp and TripAdvisor, games and quizzes are known to default as an internal app in your settings. This allows them to gain access to your personal information and user habits for their own algorithms. Keep your internal applications limited to only those that are important and useful to you.

We touched on this subject in a previous article, “Is Someone Else Using Your Facebook Page?” in the November 2017 editions for Cypress, Huntsville-Lake Livingston, Lake Conroe, Magnolia, The Woodlands and Tomball.

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