How to Manage Your Privacy Settings for Social Media

woman with a smartphone being identified on camera

Your online privacy settings are often ignored and forgotten, but they can be important to hide certain personal information you don’t want everyone to see. Companies are constantly buying your information from social media services. Hackers and cybercriminals can use your personal information to target you or a friend. Below is a guide for managing your privacy across all popular social media services.

Facebook Privacy Settings

Privacy Settings - Facebook
Like Facebook, some sites provide handy shortcuts that walk you through some basic privacy settings. | Source: Facebook

On Facebook, you can choose between a range of different privacy settings. You can use these settings to manage who sees your posts, photos, and other personal information and contact details.

Log into your Facebook account, click the triangle in the top left of your screen, ‘Privacy & Settings’, then ‘Settings.’ In your settings menu, click ‘Privacy’ on the left navigation list to reach your privacy management menu. There are several options towards the top of this menu that help you better grasp your own privacy settings in general.

In the ‘Your activity’ section, you should ensure only friends can see your posts and pages you like. This prevents strangers or hackers from gathering information about you. The final section, ‘How people can find and contact you,’ deals with how people connect with you. The most important setting here is the final one that controls whether you appear in search engines. It would be best if you were sure to turn this off, as it will make digging up your personal information harder for a potential scammer or hacker.

Twitter Privacy Settings

Privacy Settings - Twitter
Although Twitter doesn’t provide privacy shortcuts, the list of settings is comprehensive. | Source: Twitter

Twitter is a social media service that provides comprehensive privacy settings. To reach these settings, log into your account and click ‘More,’ then ‘Settings and privacy.’ In the new menu, you need to click on ‘Privacy and safety’ to reach the privacy menu.

The most important selection to make for Twitter is whether your account is private or not. If it is, only people who follow you will be allowed to see what you post. You’ll have to approve each new follower, so strangers will be unable to interact with you at all. While this mode does restrict interaction, it’s certainly a lot safer than an open account. You can manage these settings individually for each Twitter feature, such as allowing or banning strangers from sending your private messages.

The second section of settings deals with advertising. By default, Twitter will read your private information to target you with more specific ads to your interests. If you don’t want Twitter to target you with advertisers, it’s best to keep these settings disabled. It would help if you disabled the sharing of your personal information with business partners.

Instagram Privacy Settings

Privacy Settings - Instagram
The privacy settings offered by Instagram are sparse compared to other sites. | Source: Instagram

Instagram’s privacy settings are a little sparse compared to both Facebook and Twitter. To access your settings, log into your Instagram account, click on your profile, then on ‘Settings,’ and finally on ‘Privacy and Security.’

The main options for you to worry about is the privacy of your account. In a similar fashion to Twitter, Instagram accounts can be either public or private. If you have a private account, people need your approval to start following you, and only approved followers can see what you post. The only other settings Instagram offers in this menu are to do with who can see your activity status and if followers can share your stories with other people.

Instagram offers you one final feature, which is the ability to check your account data. This is a comprehensive list of all the data the company holds about you and your account. You can use this menu to download all of your data to grasp better what Instagram knows about you.

Snapchat Privacy Settings

Snapchat Settings
Snapchat’s privacy settings feel buried at the bottom of your settings menu. | Source: Snapchat

Snapchat’s privacy settings are more confusing than many other services and can only be reached from the mobile app. Log into your app, and go to your settings menu by click on your profile picture, then the small cogwheel in the corner. Scroll down to the ‘Privacy’ heading to find your various privacy options.

A lot of the options on Snapchat deal with deleting conversation and search histories. You should pay special attention to the ‘contact syncing’ and ‘Permissions’ sections of this menu. These features allow the app to scan your contacts for your friends on Snapchat. Contact scraping is a convenient way of finding friends on the app, but you are giving Snapchat easy access to your phone’s contact data.

Your final option under the ‘Privacy’ heading is ‘My Data.’ This option allows you to download all of the data Snapchat has collected on you so you can find out how much of your personal information they’re storing.

TikTok Privacy Settings

TikTok
Privacy on TikTok is easy to manage and control. | Source: TikTok

TikTok’s privacy settings are easy to find in the app. Log into your account and go to your settings menu via the 3 dots on the top of your profile page. Click ‘Privacy’ to go straight to your privacy menu.

Your TikTok privacy menu has a full suite of options to control most aspects of your online privacy. Like Twitter and Instagram, TikTok accounts can be either public or private. Setting your account to private means you have to approve followers before they can follow you, but your profile will still show up in search results.

Other options in the privacy menu deal with how advertisers use your information and some safety features. You can disable the ability to download your videos, limit direct messages to your friends, and prevent platform-specific features such as duets.

If you’re worried about your privacy on social media, you can order a comprehensive security audit here.

Featured image by Trismegist san from Shutterstock.com

William Worrall
A gaming and technology writer who has been building computers and tinkering with software since he was a teenager. Previously involved with various prestigious websites, including TechRaptor.net and CCN.COM. Now tutorial creator for Hacked.com.

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