Sometimes we want to remain connected with people who are important to us, but in the current landscape of social media, it becomes very hard to keep our circle and those with access to it under control. You don’t have to be a Hollywood star to have to worry about people being too nosy about your personal life. Keeping creepy stalkers and crazy exes away from your profiles can turn out to be a tiresome task no matter how much influence you have on social networks.
Yet having a very private life online is not an unachievable goal. It only requires you to take the right decisions and adopt certain attitudes to keep a low profile. On the side of social networks, there are a lot of options that help you remain as anonymous as possible, you just have to know where to look. Here you have some of them:
Instagram allows you to make your profile private, meaning that for anyone to follow you and, therefore, have access to your posts and such, you’d have to give them permission. Activating this feature hides all your past and future posts from anyone who doesn’t follow you, making your account a lot more private instantly but also sacrificing certain benefits of a public account which I’m assuming you’re not interested in if you’re reading this article.
To make your account private on Instagram, go to your profile tab and tap the settings button then scroll down until you see the Private Account menu entry and toggle the switch to its right. You should know that everyone who’s already following you will still be doing it after you’ve enabled this option, so you might want to block anyone you don’t want following you anymore.
This is perhaps the most complicated social network when it comes to trying to remain private. It does provide you with many options to do it but most of them require an unfair amount of time and attention to accomplish your goal.
Frist of all, you should know that each and every Facebook post can be configured to reach a certain audience. By default, the audience selector lets you choose between “public” which makes your post available to everyone, “friends” which only let your friends see it and “only me” which is self-explanatory.
Facebook also allows you to create some sort of groups of friends and set these as an audience (or to exclude them from your audience) so you can let every post reach exactly the people you want to reach. Be careful, though, because when you set an audience it will stay as the default option for future posts until you change it again.
There are other things you can do to make your profile even more private. For instance, you could hide your Facebook profile from showing up to search engines and set limitations on who can find your profile using your email address or phone number. All these settings can be toggled in the Privacy tab of the Settings page.
In case you didn’t know, by default, people can follow your public posts even if they aren’t your friends on Facebook. This makes said posts show up in their timeline as you make them. Although this is easily turned off in the “Public Posts” tab of the Settings page. Same goes to what people can post about you, including tags and posts to your profile made by other people. Options to control these can be found on the Timeline and Tagging tab.
Just like Instagram, twitter lets you go private by making your profile viewable only to those you’ve given the permission. Choosing this option also disables retweets on your tweets, but it does nothing about screenshots of your tweets.
To make your profile private from a smartphone, tap your profile pic and then go to Settings and Privacy, then tap on Privacy and Safety and tick the little box that says “Protect my Tweets”. While you’re there, you can also choose whether you want people to be able to find you using your email or phone number and some other settings related to photo tags and location.
Ensure You’re Not Being Obvious
Applying these changes on your profiles make a huge difference, but there are other extra precautions you can still take if you really want to remain as private as possible.
Firstly, it is recommended that you create an alternate email address with the only purpose of using it to sign up in social networks. Separating these from your personal email address ensures you won’t be found by anyone who has you on their contact list. Even if you’ve disabled it, there are ways in which your email could pop up in a web search and be linked to your social network accounts.
Another strong recommendation is to ensure you’re not giving your location to any of the social network apps. Disabling your phone’s GPS is not sufficient in this case, most apps can still estimate your location based on many other factors related to your internet connection. So, make sure you disable any location options within your apps.
Some people find it a bit extreme to permanently block someone in a social network. The truth is that most users have blacklisted at least one user in every major social network. Blocking people who might be harmful to your reputation is only healthy and can save you some stress, so don’t be so hesitant when you’ve met with a toxic user who won’t stop harassing you.
Extra Tips to Be Untraceable
Say you are a person of influence, perhaps a Hollywood star, and you want to create a public profile to interact with your loved ones or to experiment a normal life in social media. In these profiles, no one can know who you really are, except the ones you’ve told personally, which makes this social network game a bit more difficult. Still, it is not an impossible task to perform, you only have to be extra cautious, and for that, we provide you with these extra pieces of advice.
The first and perhaps more obvious one is you shouldn’t mix your profiles. You should use separate email addresses and passwords, but more importantly, you shouldn’t let your likes or follows betray you. These can help people link your “alter ego account” back to you and all your effort would have been useless.
You should also avoid giving hints to people about your true identity. If you have a secret Instagram account you don’t want anyone to find out about, perhaps you shouldn’t suggest it in your main profile. This only encourages nosy people to find it and the internet has the particularity of being a place where nothing stays hidden for long periods. Try not to use pseudonyms similar to the ones you’ve been using for years or that could suggest a relation with your main profiles, which leads us to the next piece of advice.
When creating a new profile, you could be tempted to adopt an alias that identifies you and there is nothing wrong with it. The problem comes when you use a really specific reference in your name that could automatically link your pseudonym to you, like the chief of the FBI did when he picked an alias based on a person he wrote a paper about and few other people knew about. If you follow these tips and have some common sense, then you should be able to keep your secret profile unnoticed for a satisfying amount of time.
Using VPN to Stay Safe Online with Social Media?
One of the best ways to protect yourself on social media is to use a VPN. When you go to Starbucks or the airport or something and login onto a social media website, you are potentially leaking your information throughout the Wi-Fi hotspot. With a VPN, you can encrypt your information so someone can’t snoop or steal your password.
Believe me, it’s not hard to install some sort of packet sniffer and mooch passwords this way.
Check out one of the VPNs below: