Data Privacy Day: tips for safe social networking

It's the week that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted something that looked a lot like his password, so it feels rather fitting to close it with Data Privacy Day. But what is Data Privacy Day? And what does it mean to the average human being?

January 28 marks Data Privacy Day (as it’s known in the US), which is an extension of the annual Data Protection Day celebrated in Europe. Worldwide, it’s a reminder of the responsibility that comes with sharing our personal details.

According to IBM, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Much of this data, such as purchase transactions and CCTV images, is designed to help us and protect us and is created almost unknowingly during the course of our day-to-day lives. This is where we trust the businesses collecting this type of data to follow regulations and compliance on our behalf. Some data, such as the information collected when surveys are completed and the details stored and created when setting up social media accounts, benefit both businesses and consumers. Here, responsibility for that data is shared. Other data, such as social media posts, is created consciously with the intention to entertain and inform others - so really, for enjoyment purposes. Most people would agree that responsibility for the content shared here lies largely with the individual who owns that account.

With that in mind, here are a few tips for safe social networking:

Think before you post
Take a moment to think about how your post might be perceived by others (future employers, for example). It goes without saying that you shouldn’t post anything which might later cause you (or someone else) embarrassment. Never share any really personal or identifiable information, such as your home address or phone number. Even if later deleted, posts can stay online for a long time so a good rule to go by is, ‘if this stayed online forever, would I mind?’. If the answer is 'possibly yes', don’t post it.

Own your online presence
Check the privacy and security settings on web services and devices and set them at a level you’re comfortable with. Consider using different accounts for different purposes. For example, if you’re a freelancer, it might be best to set up a Twitter account to represent you professionally and another to share your personal views. 

Set up safely
When creating up social accounts, choose a secure username and password. Our previous post ‘5 tips to create a strong, secure password’ best explains this one!

Keep your machine clean
An optimisation tool, such as CCleaner (available for PC, Mac and Android) will protect your privacy, improve speed and free up space by securely erasing tracking cookies, browser history, passwords and files you no longer need. If you run it on your computer, it’ll also allow you to customise your startup items so you can get going more quickly. Plus, it can also rid of your device of pre-installed bloatware so you're only storing the software you will actually use.

So while we’re all susceptible to the ‘accidental pocket tweet’ (which is one of the theories behind Sean’s cryptic tweet), we hope these tips help you keep your social accounts secure. If you have any comments please tweet us. We're @Piriform.

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