Published: December 24, 2022 on our newsletter Security Fraud News & Alerts Newsletter.
Some friends are forever, and others are social media friends you no longer need, want, know, or trust. It’s a segment of social media that often gets overlooked, and revisiting that list of friends who have access to your posts can benefit you and your online security. Now is the perfect time to take stock of your list and do a friendship sweep. After all, do you really want total strangers seeing a video of that beginner ballet recital you starred in five years ago? You may not be the person you were then, and your circle of friends may not be the same either. So why are they still on your friends list?
Over time, a list of friends can get awfully long, and you’ll likely see that a number of those distant friends aren’t friends at all. Some may be friends of friends and total strangers. In other words, people you don’t know that you once gave access to your postings should be deleted. Now that users are more privacy and security conscious than when social media sites first started popping-up, the Facebook and LinkedIn accounts you’ve had for years could use a friend facelift.
Protecting your privacy should be front and center of all online activity, and that includes ferreting-out those contacts who were never your friends and those you have no reason to trust – nor will you ever since you have no idea who they are. Tagging pictures, group shots or posting about those you love and trust makes their lives part of the discussion, which they may not be happy about. The privacy of your friends and family should be respected, and with social media, less is always more when it comes to involving others.
We know they’re out there, those whose only interest in being on your friends list is the personal information they gather on you. It’s no secret that cyber thieves troll social media sites for nuggets of data they can cobble together and before you know it, a hacker has what they need for a cyberattack with you in the crosshairs.
Posting your particular details can provide the fuel for several attack types, including account takeover (ATO). That’s when a hacker steals your account identity, and they can use it to post messages with phishing links and malware attachments – all done in your name. Unfortunately, trustworthy friends and family could fall prey to these fake posts too, as well as becoming targets for future phishing campaigns themselves. Also, any duplicate friends and their old accounts should be deleted since they too could be compromised.
There are other perks to purging your friends list that gives you clarity into what your loved ones are posting about. When your list is trimmed down, posts from those you’ve deleted no longer clutter your space anymore. Crazy or harmful posts by strangers become a thing of the past and that gives those you love some peace of mind. Also, cutting back on those posts gives more space to those you really want to hear from, and the noise from others no longer drowns out their voices.
Remember, keeping your circle of friends small not only benefits you and your security, but it can also help keep your friends and loved ones safe from prying eyes. And always keep in mind that what you share can always be further shared. When that happens, you lose control over it and there’s not getting it back.
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