Last June 28, two negative comments appeared on a Twitter account called shainagm, which used actress Shaina Magdayao’s photo as its display picture, PEP.ph reports. The Tweets said, "Poor fans...still hoping magiging sila pa?? :) in your dreams na lang!" and "Ang hina niyo pala e! Oo kami na ni John Lloyd anong pakielam niyo! Damn Bitches!” This was in reference to actor John Lloyd Cruz’ recent admission that he and the actress are together. According to a source, reports to PEP.ph, Shaina had already closed down her personal Twitter account two days before the incident happened, making it "impossible" for her to have posted the comments.
Whether or not this was a case of hacking remains to be seen; in any case, on the World Wide Web, one must always be prepared for lapses in the maintenance of privacy, especially in the case of social networking accounts. Just last year, a UAE-based Filipina got slammed for posting a disparaging comment about Ondoy victims on Facebook. It was later confirmed as someone posing as her, an identity thief. By then, though, the damage had been done and she had received threats to herself and her family, GulfNews.com reports.
To prevent such situations, follow these five tips for securing your social networking accounts. You can click on a tip linked below to read more about it, or you can simply read on!
- Control your privacy settings.
- Clear your private data.
- Practice good password security.
- Manage your login names, display names, and e-mail accounts.
- Clean up your online identity.
Check that you yourself are not compromising your privacy and security in your social networking accounts. If you haven’t already, set your profiles to be viewable by your friends or followers only to minimize instances of information leakage. Of course, this does not guarantee that hackers will not be able to get to your account, but it at least takes care of the basics. Think before you post, and be careful about what you say on the web because once it’s out there, it’s hard to take it back.
If you’re on a public computer or your work computer, make sure not to save your login names and passwords so that when someone else uses the unit, your information is not retained. Make it a habit to clear your private data on whichever browser you’re using after you’re done so that you erase not just your browsing history, but your cookies and cache as well. In the same vein, don’t leave your computer unattended when you’re logged into your accounts to prevent others from using them.
To ensure that your accounts are safe, changing your password regularly is a must. Avoid common password blunders like using easy dictionary words or things related to yourself. IBM.com cites using a combination of special characters, upper- and lowercase letters, and numbers to increase the complexity of your passwords. (In fact, let's just say that Jejemonese comes in very handy when inventing passwords.) Once you’re done concocting your special words, make sure that you store them in a safe location that only you have access to (technically, they should just be in your head, though realistically, with the number of different accounts many of us maintain, this may not be very reliable).
It's also a good idea to use a different password for every social networking site you use. This can mean just affixing "Twitter" or "Facebook" to the beginning or end of your standard passwords, but it adds just another level of security and ensures that hacking one account doesn't allow a malicious-minded individual to gain access to all of them.
In relation to this, it's an excellent security measure to create a dummy e-mail account to use for social networking sites (as opposed to your main account, which you may use for personal or business messaging). You can even have messages sent to this secondary e-mail address automatically forwarded to your main account so your e-mail alerts and messages are viewable from a centralized location. Google Mail or GMail is especially good for this, but most web-based mail systems do allow auto-forwarding.
While it may be easier to maintain the same log-in and display names on all accounts, it's much safer if you change things up a bit. Some sites, forums, and the like allow you to choose one log-in name and a separate display or screen name (which will be what other members will see unless you allow them greater access to your personal information). Since your log-in name is one half of the combination that unlocks your account, it's a good idea to keep this different from your screen name whenever possible.
Female Network stresses the importance of maintaining an untarnished online reputation by controlling your web visibility. The less personal information about you that's out on the web, the less you need to monitor and maintain. Make sure to conduct a Google search for yourself on the web, not for purposes of vanity but for your own knowledge. Also try creating separate personas for your work and home life so that they’re easier to manage. These will not only ensure that your online reputation remains unblemished, but also help toward deterring unwanted attention from suspicious individuals.