Like your privacy? What social media knows about you and 10 tips to protect your information

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HOUSTON — Welcome to the age of social media, where oversharing every aspect of our lives is the norm! Yet, everyone still expects privacy online somehow.

But when it comes to signing up for any social media or just purchasing a smart device for that matter. By clicking the "I agree button" on the privacy settings — without reading it, of course — all your personal information could be sold to the highest bidder.

Well, no more! We like our privacy— and we want it back!

Did you know it's not just a picture your posting? You're providing your exact location through the meta data. Some companies like Facebook go so far as to log the battery level of your device, signal strength and available storage. So they can suggest apps that will run better on your phone.

Not using a phone? A computer shares even more info on your behalf. Social media knows the type of browser you use, all of your plug ins and tracks whether a window is kept in the foreground or background of the screen. Even the exact movements of your mouse— creepy right?

To make matters worse, Facebook's privacy policy says even if location services are turned off, the company can still find you through the location data you share with search engines, nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers. In addition, they can collect info about any other device on the same network as you. Whether that person has a Facebook account or not. How do you like that?

Even stranger, all of this is part of Facebooks "new" data policy following the massive breach that ultimately shut Cambridge Antaylica down. Sure, there's more opt in or opt out options, but they will collect the info they want regardless.

NewsFix not only went to social media privacy expert Charryse Johnson, author of "A Guide to Social Media Era Parenting" for help, we also took her to the University of Houston to show some students how they can better protect themselves.

Johnson offers these tips to begin protecting yourself today:

  • Create unique passwords
  • Set you privacy settings accordingly
  • Turn off geotagging
  • Remove any and all third-party plug ins
  • And above all think before you post!

She adds, these tips will help but nothing is going to provide a fool proof firewall for your privacy.

Face it, your info's out there whether you like it or not.

Other tips to try to protect your privacy:

  1. Remember the Internet is permanent: Assume that once you put information on the site, it stays there forever. Even if you delete the account, you don’t know if someone has already printed/copied your text or photos off of it.
  2. Be selective when accepting a friend: Do you really know that their profile is real and not fake? Only “friend” people you know in the real world.
  3. Exercise caution when clicking on links: Even if they’re from friends. Hackers prey on social networks because you are more likely to click on something from your friends. Also be wary of offers with the word “free” in them, or ones that sound too good to be true, as they usually are.
  4. Manage your privacy settings: Make sure that you are only sharing information with friends and family and check them regularly in case there are any changes.
  5. Be aware of the fact that the information you share on one social network may be linked to another: For instance, a photo you post to Twitter may automatically post to your Facebook profile.
  6. Don’t reveal personal information: Be suspicious of anyone who asks for your personal information online and never share your home address, phone number, Social Security number, or other personal identifying information.
  7. Turn off the GPS function on your smartphone camera: If you plan to share images online, make sure that you turn off the GPS on your device to keep your exact location private.
  8. Don’t enable auto login: Make sure that you don’t have your apps set to automatically log you in and that you don’t have your computer’s browser “remember” your login and password. That way if someone does get access to your devices, they can’t automatically access your social sites.
  9. Change your passwords frequently: Choose hard-to-guess passwords that are at least eight characters long and a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, and change them regularly. Also make sure you use different passwords for each account.
  10. Close old accounts that you don’t use anymore: Don’t risk leaving personal data in an old account, such as a MySpace page you haven’t used in years, or on an online dating site you no longer need. Instead, close the accounts you don’t use and delete as much personal information from them as possible.
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