By Ben Halpert

People spend time catching up with others and finding out what is happening throughout the world on social media more than any other method of communication. The younger you are, the more time per day you spend doing it! And when we say young, we are not talking just about tweens and teens. We are talking about professional young adults.

The social media apps we use may seem innocent enough on the surface, but they are each tracking and selling our habits, likes, actions, and whereabouts. Because of the invasive nature of social media apps on our privacy, it is important we take the time to conduct a privacy checkup of our accounts.
If you are a parent, your children will follow your example, which is why mastering the art of social media privacy checkups will make it easier for you to ensure your kids are safe and protected on their favorite apps too.

What is a Privacy Checkup?

A privacy checkup is the process by which you verify or edit who can view your content, share your content, or download your content on a particular social media site. For the purposes of this blog, we’re going to look at privacy check-ups related to some of the most used social media apps today:

Facebook: A Facebook privacy checkup will help you go over who can see what you share, updating who can see your future and past posts, reviewing who you’ve blocked, updating your password if you want it to be stronger, turning on alerts to help let you know if someone is trying to log into your account, sending friend requests, and finally, your data sharing settings with other companies on Facebook.

Click on the “question mark” icon at the top of any page on Facebook. You can find it on your profile or your homepage if you are in a web browser as it is an icon that’s part of the tool bar. After you click on that, click “Privacy Checkup” to begin the process. Facebook wants you to feel comfortable using their app, which is why they now make it easier than it used to be.

Instagram: Facebook is also the owner of Instagram, the second most widely used app in the world today. Instagram enables you to set profiles to private if you do not want content shared with the general public. To check your Instagram privacy settings:

  • Go to your profile
  • Click on the gear icon next to settings
  • Select Privacy and Security
  • This will bring you to a slew of options. If you want to set your account to private, for example, tap on Privacy, Account Privacy, and then tap next to Private Account to set it to private.

Snapchat: To check your Snapchat privacy settings:

  • Click on the gear icon on the profile screen.
  • Scroll down to the “who can” section and tap an option.
  • Tap on the black button to save your choice.
    You can edit who can contact you directly, who can send notifications, who can view your story, who can see your location, and if you can be suggested to people you don’t know but have a mutual connection.
  • Under the My Account section, click Connected Apps, to see what apps are tracking your snapchat activity.
  • Next, go to the Additional Services section and click Manage.
  • Go through Permissions, Ad Preferences, Lifestyle and Interests, and Maps to limit sharing of your private information to other organizations.

TikTok: TikTok is one of the most popular apps for kids today and plenty of adults have joined the TikTok party.
From the app, tap on the profile icon, then tap the three dots at the top right of the screen.
Spend some time going through the Privacy and safety settings. Here, you can make your account private and determine how much data the app can collect and share about you and your usage of TikTok. Once private, you child can also manage who follows your account by removing or blocking followers at any time.

Make sure your children use private accounts that share only to friends and family. Show your kids how easy and important a privacy and safety checkup can be and they’ll start doing it for themselves. Walk through other apps you use to conduct a privacy checkup with your kids. You may (or many not!) be surprised at how much of your information is being shared with the world.

Take the time to engage in a social media privacy checkup today, you probably need it!

Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents, to teachers and students. Sign up for our free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics. See more cyber safety and cyber ethics blogs produced exclusively for EarthLink. Looking for a social media parental control? Try a 30-day free trial of Bark. If you sign up after your trial, Bark donates 25% of your monthly fee to Savvy Cyber Kids.

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