Today we spend more time socializing in the virtual space created by new-age social media apps like Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram & Twitter. Let’s admit it, we feel way more comfortable expressing our thoughts in this virtual space than an otherwise one-on-one meet-up. While it’s good to socialize on the go, it’s imperative that you understand the potential privacy threats that come along for a free ride. Let’s review the vulnerable privacy threat points one by one:
From teens as young as 10 years, to elderlies as old as 80 years, WhatsApp has become a part of almost everyone’s life. Every now and then, we take selfies, update our Display Pictures (a.k.a DPs), update the status messages, send and receive multiple photos & videos. While you may feel confident after WhatsApp has started encrypting end-to-end messages, but I feel there are certain basic privacy settings that are often overlooked, and sometimes even forgotten to worth have a look at:
a) Control who can see your display picture, last seen & status message
By default, your WhatsApp settings are configured in a way that leaves your personal information vulnerable to all those who have your contact number saved in their phone. For better control, you should change these settings so that only those who are in your contact list can see these personal details.
b) Control how WhatsApp photos & videos appear in your phone’s image gallery
The photos and videos that you download from WhatsApp are stored on your phone’s image gallery under a folder named ‘WhatsApp’. Now this leaves your private photos and videos exposed to everyone who takes a look at the gallery app. Here is a possible workaround:
Solution: Hide this specific folder from appearing in the image gallery app. You don’t need to download a third-party app for this purpose. This can be done manually. Open your file manager app, and navigate this way: WhatsApp -> Media -> WhatsApp images. Inside this folder, create an empty new file named ‘.nomedia’. That’s it. OR, another possible option is to download QuickPic gallery app. Long press the WhatsApp gallery
The essential privacy settings of the world’s largest social media network are also often condoned by most of the people. Here are a few important privacy settings to look for while using Facebook:
- Mind the group of people you are sharing your updates with – Public, Friends, Friends of friends, or custom. To set a default option for future, navigate here. This automatically sets a specific chosen group to share all your future updates.
- If you’re more concerned about your privacy, consider removing your mobile number from settings, or at-least limit the people who can search you using your mobile number. Navigate here to fine tune these settings. You can do this for your primary email address as well.
- In case you’re getting a lot of unsolicited friend requests, then you can also consider limiting the group of people who can send you friend requests – Public(everyone) or friends of friends.
- The last essential privacy setting worth your attention is ‘Tagging’ & ‘Who can post on your timeline?’ First of all, turn on review on all the tags before they appear on your timeline. Additionally, if you allow tagging without review, it is advisable to fine-tune the group of people (Everyone, Friends, Friends of Friends, Only you, or custom) who can see the stuff you’ve been tagged into on your timeline.
Most of the privacy measures that we just discussed for Facebook also apply to Twitter as well. The privacy settings for protected tweets, tagging & who can search you using the phone number you provided are worth to have a look at:
Instagram is one of the biggest and the most popular social-media app among avid photographers & photo lovers. But like any other social media app, Instagram too is vulnerable to potential privacy threats. If you’re using Instagram for business/commercial purpose, then obviously, I don’t see much need to worry about the privacy of your account. But if you’re using Instagram as an individual and posting your personal photos, then you obviously need to follow some essential privacy tips:
a) Don’t want random people to follow you? Make your account private.
When you make your account private, only those whom you approve as followers will be able to see your photos and videos, without affecting your existing followers. What’s more? The list of your followers/following will be hidden from everyone except your existing followers. However, if you wish to hide such details from a specific person on your followers list, then unfortunately the only way is to block him/her.
b) Hide your Instagram profile from being ‘suggested to follow‘ to other people:
To hide your profile from suggestions appearing on other people’s account, you have to turn off this option from the edit profile tab (which is apparently accessible through desktop version of Instagram only). Check the screenshot below:
c) Moderate comments appearing on your photos/videos
To moderate the comments appearing on your photos and videos, navigate to the ‘comments filter tab’ and check ‘hide inappropriate comments’. Now add the list of keywords separated by commas that you find offensive and inappropriate. That’s it 🙂
Did I miss any other important privacy setting worth your attention?
In this post, I just covered the top 4 social media apps, and the possible privacy loopholes that are worth a look at. Did I miss something important? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Happy social networking 🙂