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3 Tips on Securing Your Social Media Life

I’m of the millennial generation, where we kept a heavily curated Top 8 (except for Tom … who apparently is making a return, question mark?). We haphazardly taught ourselves to code because our MySpace pages had to play music when you arrived. We existed in a time where the Internet was a thing, and what you posted didn’t hold much weight (or so we thought). In 2020, we discovered just how connected we can truly be without being in the same rooms. In 2021, we continue to discover just how powerful, supportive and, at times, stressful social media can be. With the prevalence of troll accounts, mindless doomscrolling, encryption, and advanced facial recognition, resting on that embarrassing photo or post being buried does more harm than good. Here are some tips on posting, curation and, if need be, damage control.

Mind Your Content

We live in the age of the social media influencer. It’s easier than ever to create a platform built on skill, talent, comedy, beauty, gaming, etc., at any age. If you’re good at it, there’s an audience waiting for you, and you’re the perfect person to deliver. With that said, the spotlight of near-instant stardom can shine too brightly and content can get away from you. As we’ve seen with many a YouTuber choosing Edgelord antics over common sense, best to err on the side of safe. Now, safe doesn’t have to mean boring — by all means, create compelling posts and engage with your friends, fans, and audiences. But know the differences between them. Parasocial relationships can sometimes feel more real than in-person support systems. But understand that once the pedestal crumbles and your humanity shines through, all you have is who you are. Be someone who takes that into account in every social engagement and try not to let any high praise lead you to questionable posting.

Know Your Platform

From TikTok to Instagram to Twitter, there’s space to open dialogue, share your cool experiences, and connect with like-minded people. This also leaves room to get lost in a sea of retweets and replies. Luckily, many platforms now allow you to untag photos, mentions, and pages. Depending on the site, it’s as simple as heading to the settings menu. For others, there’s a bit more legwork. Research how best to protect yourself, your photos, and your words online per platform. Be diligent. If you don’t want to have that embarrassing photo or screenshot on the interwebs, take charge of where you end up as best you can. Ask that any photos of you be taken on your phone, ask to review all photos taken within a group, and be sure what is being shared has your approval. Some may say you’re doing too much, but ensuring any harmful or cringe-worthy content doesn’t see the light of day is worth the hassle. A good habit to build is doing a thorough sweep of your content every quarter. Maybe you tweeted something years ago that you no longer believe. Because the internet always remembers (we’ve all enjoyed a good “this you?” moment), avoid being the main character for the day/week/month by deleting anything egregious and offensive. It’s always worth the effort.

Take Care of Yourself IRL and Take a Break from Social Media

Sometimes photos, posts and social capital gets away from us — a friend may have captured you in a not-so-flattering moment and tagged you because they thought it would be funny. A screenshot, text, or DM may have leaked. Worst, you may have been hacked and your most private images are now out in the open. Cyberbullying is a real and disheartening occurrence we don’t often think about until we are the target. Many middle and high school students have borne the brunt of becoming a meme due to one person’s actions, intentional or not. If this has happened to you, one of the most important things is to mind your mental health:

  • Talk to people you trust. Share your feelings.
  • Make your pages private and disable comments.
  • Create as safe a space as you need.
  • If you’re able to, work to build an offensive by getting ahead of any photos or content as best you can. Be honest with your words and intentions.
  • Contact your phone carrier and explain the breach if one occurred.
  • In the case of bullying, contact authorities.

In this social media age, there’s a lot that can go wrong in the hands of those who aren’t aware. There’s also so much that goes right in the hands of the prepared. So please, by all means, post your things — your funny, impressive, honest things. Just remember that the internet is forever.

Updated November 30, 2021

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