Below, I have collected some guides that you can use to secure the apps that you use. I've selected the most popular of the social media apps, but you might use something different. Simply do some research on your own to find ways to "lock down" your privacy settings and know who else gets your information.
Most apps give you very little (if any) security or privacy by default.
You have to remember that most of the apps you use are free because the information that you give them access to, whether you type it in or it's background data collected by your device (location, browsing habits, etc), is valuable. They collect it and sell it to advertisers. These apps spread and become more successful the more content is posted on their service, as people don't want to use an app without any content on it. Therefore, by default, all of your sharing options are often defaulted to totally public. Often, settings to correct this are buried in several places in the app so that they can simultaneously claim that they respect your control of your information, and so that they can make those controls very hard to find.
This is just the listing for the most popular apps. You should also look into locking down other accounts and services, or simply not using them at all unless you really need to. The best app security is to use only what you need and know exactly how you're using it.
Remember: no settings will keep you safe or protect your privacy if you do not control your behavior as well.
- 10 Essential Privacy Tips for Snapchat Users
- How to turn off Snap Map - It's neat, but it's not worth the safety risk you are taking. Again, even if you set things to private, it's too easy for bad actors to get a hold of your data.
- Instagram's Privacy Settings and Information Help Page
- How to remove location data from Instagram posts - remember, it's almost always best practice to not post photos with location data. It's very easy for someone to figure out your patterns, habits, and the places you visit if you do.
- How to Make Your Instagram Profile Private
- Be aware that there are lots of social engineering tricks that can be used to get you to expose your private account to people that you don't want to see it. Be very careful about who you allow to follow you. Anyone can appear to be anyone online.
- How to Protect Your Personal Information - from Twitter's help pages
- How to Make Your Twitter Profile Private
- Facebook Profile Privacy Settings
- Facebook Privacy Lockdown Guide from an IT company
- Another guide to locking down your privacy settings from Wired.com
- Yet another very good guide from TrustedReviews.com
- Safe Computing from the University of Michigan - Here are good steps and guidelines to follow for any app or online service. Consult it regularly.
- Uninstall apps that you don't actually use. There's a possibility that they are either collecting data in the background, introducing security holes in your phone (the more apps you have, the higher chance there's a way to hack into your phone through one of them), or causing other headaches.
Also take a look at their Social Integrity page - it's full of good ideas, tips, and how-to articles.
Apps you probably shouldn't use in the first place
- Kik - Kik is rife with individuals who use its privacy and anonymity mirage to make inappropriate demands and requests of underage people. There are plenty more above-board apps than this.
- Tinder (or anything similar) - if you're not an adult, you're too young to be using Tinder and are asking to be targeted by creeps. You have no business on an adult dating app, no matter how fun you think it is.
Why should I not have fun online however I want? I know how to be safe.
You probably really don't. Posting information publicly is unsafe, and there's no way around that. However, sharing it "privately" with people online, or even sharing limited amounts of information (e.g., leaving out your address but saying what town or city you're from), can feel safe when it is really not much different.
Odds are, if someone really wanted to, they could figure where you live, where you go to school, who your friends are, what your parents do for work, and do whatever they want with that information.