Being a blogger (sort of) implies going public: with your thoughts, ideas, your writing in general. What about your personal details? I chose not to share mine on my blog. I would like to be known for my writing, not for who I am in ‘real’ life. This is why you won’t find my name here, or my contact details. Not that it would be a rocket science to find them. And, still, I would like to know that I am doing my best to stay safe online.
What has been happening to me over the past few months showed me that I have to be careful. Very! My Facebook account was nearly hacked today, which rang a few alarm bells. Luckily, no harm was done, as the fraudulent attempt was detected and my account got locked. I didn’t mind changing my password, as this showed me that someone is watching over my online safety.
This is not the first time I am slightly worried about my privacy – which is why I am writing this post. For two reasons. Reason one: to warn other bloggers. Reason two: to ask for their advice. What are your tips for staying safe online?
I am sure there will be someone out there who will disagree with me, but to me is indisputable: social networks are a great (if not the greatest) tool for publicising your blog. I swear by Facebook. Not so much with Twitter (just not my thing). I’ve got to admit, though, that since I got my Twitter profile to represent my blog, the number of my followers started rising – slowly but steadily. They are obviously following me as a blogger, rather than just a Twitter user.
While I’ve never published anything particularly personal on Twitter, I cannot say the same about Facebook. This is the social platform for me, and I would like to know that my privacy there is safe. Ever since I started my blog, I have been posting links to my blog in various groups and forums. This got me (and keeps getting me) lots of traffic.
What I also, worryingly, noticed is rising interest in me. As a person and a woman. Which is when it started to get tricky. While I do like to go public as far as my blog is concerned, this is not what I want for my personal profile. So here is what I found to be the best ways to keep your own privacy:
Create a Facebook page for your blog and make sure it is separate from your personal profile.
Do not list yourself as the page administrator. Unless you do want people to link you to your page, which will result in a fair number of new friends requests.
When publishing links on various groups and pages, or when commenting, try to post as your page rather than yourself. This is a relatively new feature that I find is just great. This would have prevented a number of unwanted friend requests for me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on all devices. Therefore, when posting links, I try to do it from a PC/laptop rather than my phone.
Enable the ‘follow’ option. Anyone whose friend request you reject, will automatically follow you. Very handy! Any posts or photos you choose to post as public will be visible to your followers. Which will keep both you and them happy.
Except for those cases when people keep trying and send you their requests a few times. Some are even cheeky enough to message you and insist of being your friends rather than your followers. Which is when it’s your call: to add them or not to add them?
Rejecting a friend request and/or blocking that person is the easiest thing to do. If they read your blog, though, would you like to do this? I would say no. Which is why sometimes you may have to compromise and add people you wouldn’t normally do.
There is a way around this, too, which is why I find Facebook fascinating. You can play with your security settings and keep your account as private as you would like it to be. What I have done is change the settings for each one of my albums. I have albums that I find safe enough to be visible to the public, and others that I would like to be visible only to my friends and family. Although it does take a fair amount of time, I swear by this. As well as regulating every friend’s viewing permissions. If I don’t trust them enough to give them access to my private photos, I just categorise them as acquaintances. Nice and easy.
When posting any status updates, photos, etc., make sure you select the desired level of privacy: public, friends or friends without acquaintances. You can go even further by using custom privacy settings: your post can be made invisible to certain people on your friends list. Which doesn’t make it private to the rest, though.
Viola! You can be both private and public on Facebook and enjoy its great potential for growing your blog.
Why go through this trouble? You (honestly!!) don’t want to know! But, trust me, it can be disturbing. Which doesn’t mean that the only way to avoid spammers and hassle is by deleting your account. Just take the time to follow the steps listed above.
If you have got your own pieces of advice, please share them with me. As I am, frankly, fed up with strange men telling me they are madly in love me. And would not like my account to be hacked – ever again.