Social media has emerged as a blessing and a curse as it allows us to connect to people anywhere in the world at the simple opening of an app, but also to dangerously overshare in the heat of the moment. It is important to know how to safeguard our online activity and limit exposure when employers or potential employers may search through your social media history to see what we’ve been up to.
Unfortunately, many of us have terrible online privacy and security practices that make it easy for us to fall prey and miss opportunities.
Operational security is the practice of protecting sensitive information that if put together, can give a clear picture of your movements and habits.
Traditionally, operational security was used in the military to protect information from spies. Now, we see that this is a practice Black people should embrace to protect ourselves from unwanted attention and reputation management.
Data is the new gold. Trillions of dollars are made globally by companies that traffic in data, your personal information. In the past few years, social media has become the leading harvester of that data, and they haven’t always been trustworthy keepers.
For example, Google stored their G Suite users’ passwords in plain text for years. If big tech is harvesting the data of their own customers, consider how many other companies may improperly leverage your information to their advantage.
In 2017, CareerBuilder revealed that nearly 70 percent of employers go through their candidates’ social media profiles before hiring. With Black Americans continuing to face an uphill battle in business and equal employment — being denied, fired, or not considered for a promotion because of an Instagram post or a tweet is a real possibility.
Here are some things you can do to protect your online identity:
1. Limit the number of social media platforms you use
The more platforms we sign up for, the more we spread our information around which leaves us open to data breaches. It’s ok to be an early adopter, but be responsible with your personal information.
2. Set a limit to the number of people you follow or friend
Only interact with people you know personally on social media. Limit the number of people you follow in addition to the number of people you allow to follow you.
3. Think twice before you provide private information
Your followers shouldn’t know where you reside or anything about your personal identity. Even though your profile may be “private,” that doesn’t mean you should share private information.
4. Set your profile from public to private
Unless you are trying to be a social media influencer or public figure, your account does not need to be public. Use your settings to make your profile private so that you are only interacting or sharing content with people you know personally.
5. Set boundaries to the type of content you post
Avoid posting pictures of yourself with illegal substances, weapons, money, or jewelry. Before posting, ask yourself if it is something you would want a potential boss to see.