Finding savings through social media typically requires divulging a certain amount of personal information — either biographical or geographical. That exposes you to a level of risk, as fraudsters can use this information to target you for identity theft or email scamming schemes. But you can mitigate the risk by tinkering with websites' and apps' privacy settings.
• Facebook: On Facebook you can manage who contacts you and who can view your profile page; just establish privacy settings. Select "Friends" to ensure that only your Facebook friends will see your status updates and what pages you've "liked." You can also control the visibility of individual posts and select who can see photos and posts tagged with your name.
• Twitter: Inside Twitter's security and privacy settings, make sure the box "Add a location to my Tweets" isn't checked, to prevent others from knowing you're not home when you're sending Twitter messages. This information could compromise your security while traveling. To prevent others from seeing your Twitter feed, check the "Protect my Tweets" box.
• Foursquare: Foursquare needs to know your location in order to work, but you can limit who else sees that by checking in privately each time and opting out of the special "Here Now" list that tells you who is at the same location when you check in. Also: You need only your first name to use Foursquare. You're not completely anonymous, but it's easier to avoid revealing who you are.
Privacy and security settings vary by carrier and device, but in general, here's a quick guide to safe smartphone use when on social media.
For iPhone users: Go to "Settings," then "Privacy," then "Location Services." From there, you can control which installed apps know of your location via GPS. Leaving "Weather" checked on is useful, but turn Twitter's "Location Services" off to hide your coordinates.
For Android users: If you don't want social networking apps using GPS to reveal your location, go to your main system settings and look for the option called "Location and Security." Under the heading "My Location" at the top of the screen, uncheck the two boxes and voilà: You're invisible.
Also of Interest
- 7 loans you should never cosign
- 9 common ailments that drive you crazy
- Get free help with your taxes with AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
Join AARP Today — Receive access to exclusive information, benefits and discounts