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12 simple steps to safer social networking

Alex Wawro | March 25, 2013
Follow our privacy tips for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram to ensure that you're not oversharing.

Twitter disables location sharing by default, but you should still double-check this status. Enter your account settings and uncheck the Add a location to my Tweets option. While you're there, click the Delete all location information setting for good measure.

Go private:  Finally, consider setting your Twitter profile to private. It's simple enough to do--just enter your account settings and check the box next to Protect my tweets--and it ensures that your updates aren't publicly visible. This setting affords you much greater control over where your updates go because your followers can't retweet you, and new followers have to request your permission before Twitter will allow them to start following you.

Get your Google+ profile in order

Google's surprisingly popular social network does interesting things with privacy controls. By baking selective sharing right into the network itself, it forces you to stop and think about what you're sharing every time you post an update. For this, we can thank Google's "circles" conceit: One circle, for instance, can include only family members, while another can be just for coworkers. The bottom line is that you get to define exactly which circles of trust see which particular updates.

It's a clever approach to privacy control, but Google+ still has a few potential issues that are easy to address if you know where to look.

Limit who can find you:  First and foremost, remove your Google+ profile from being listed in Google search results. It's the simplest way to increase your privacy and instantly reduce the number of fake accounts adding you to their circles and spamming your inbox with ads. To keep your profile private, log in to Google+, open Account Settings, and then scroll down to the Profile section and uncheck the box that says Help others discover my profile in search results.

Lock down your profile:  Google+ lets you assign individual privacy levels for every piece of data on your profile, but that requires you to dive into the ocean of data that is your Google+ profile. To do so, select the Profile and privacy menu from the left-hand navigation pane, and click the button that says Edit visibility on profile.

Google+ will walk you through the long process of selecting privacy levels for every aspect of your Google+ profile--age, location, education, and so on. It takes a few minutes, but it's a great way to run through everything you're sharing online and to determine what to keep public and what to keep private. I prefer to keep most of my Google+ profile private, sharing only with people I have in my circle of friends, but your privacy needs may be different.


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