Take control of your social privacy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Take control of your social privacy

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

More than 900 million people use the social networking site Facebook. That's one out of every seven people on the planet.

It's fun to exchange information with people we call "friends," but it can be very dangerous.

Consider a recent tragedy that hit so very close to home. In March, 22-year-old Lindsay Nichols was ambushed, shot and killed by a man with whom she'd broken off a relationship. The man then killed himself.  On the day she died, Lindsay had shared  very personal information on Facebook - a change in relationship, a new boyfriend, and the location of tanning salon she was visiting.

University of Northern Iowa junior Lottie Staggs never knew Lindsay, but learned something from her.

"After hearing that story I realize I'm really not that safe. If anybody wants to get me, they definitely could and it's really creepy," Staggs said.

"This tragedy is a good example for people to be careful about posting. Social media is for entertainment only but the cost of all that free entertainment is that your privacy has been sold to the company," UNI communications professor Sarina Chen said.

Chen tells students if you're going to use social networking, at least think about what you post and just how many people will see it.

Here are 7 safety tips for social media sites:

1. Educate yourself about how a site works before you start posting.

2. Adjust your security settings so you can control who sees your information.

3. Look over your photos with a critical eye. Are there personal details in the photo that could impact your safety? Could the photo impact your reputation? Despite privacy settings, all photos are one click away from being saved and shared where you have no control.

4. Post social, not personal events. Talking about attending a public event like the fair is different from posting details about a private occasion like a dinner party.

5. Keep things general. Posting you're in Chicago is ok, but don't post your hotel room number.

6. Look at the information you're posting and be aware of how people can use it. Could the information allow them to steal your identity or impact your privacy?

7. Remember your future college, employer, and spouse may be watching!

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