People are jeopardizing their private information because they use the same password for different social media accounts, a recent survey by consumer finance site NextAdvisor suggests.
The survey was conducted April 25-26 on 500 men and women at least 18 years of age. Participants were asked about their social media habits, like how they chose and secured their passwords, as well as privacy settings they use when posting on platforms.
The survey found 67 percent of respondents used the same password for at least two of their social media accounts, now or in the past. One in three of the respondents (31 percent) said they never changed their social media passwords.
“It can be easy to grow complacent when it comes to your passwords, especially if you have a lot of them to remember,” NextAdvisor’s Jocelyn Baird told International Business Times.
She said reusing passwords and picking easy passwords, like “123456” or “princess,” can put your information at risk. Baird recommends using strong passwords and to take advantage of password managers like Dashlane and 1Password. Baird reminds people any account that is linked to another, or allows you to reset passwords to accounts, should be strongly protected, since “it puts your entire online life in jeopardy.”
A reason why people are careless with their social media password could be because they don’t see them as vital as other accounts they might possess. When comparing passwords for sites, 32 percent of respondents viewed their passwords for social media profiles as less important than their email or banking accounts.
“Social media doesn’t seem like something that needs strong protection, but you might be surprised at how valuable a social media account can be,” Baird said. “While you should obviously take the protection of your financial accounts seriously, social media should be viewed as equally important, too.”
Sharing Passwords With Spouse
Sharing passwords with others, like spouses, isn’t frowned upon, especially among younger users.
The survey found a quarter of respondents are currently sharing their passwords with someone else while an additional 34 percent said they would consider it under the right circumstances. Among those less than 40 years of age, 26 percent said they currently share their passwords with others, compared to 24 percent among those more than 40. Although sharing passwords is a personal choice, it might not end in a pleasant way.
“As much as we all want to trust the people in our lives, the sad truth is that sometimes the people closest to us are the ones who do the most damage,” said Baird, pointing to familiar fraud, when a person close to you engages in identity theft.
“Even if the person you share a password with is completely trustworthy, sharing vulnerable information makes it harder to ensure that it won’t be lost or stolen, since you can’t control what another person does or says,” Baird said, pointing to mistakes, like writing a password down and leaving it in plain view.
“It’s best not to share passwords, to prevent mishaps or malicious actions,” Baird added.
Privacy Settings and Why You Should Google Yourself
The survey did have some good news: 92 percent of respondents ages 40 and younger and 72 percent of those older than 41 said they knew how to check their social media privacy settings.
If you like to Google yourself, you shouldn’t feel a bit of shame. The survey found 51 percent of respondents don’t Google themselves, which is something they should be doing. Looking yourself up on Google can allow you to see what information about you is out on the internet for everyone to see, like your home address, telephone number and social media posts, if they’re not private. Besides Googling your name, you should also Google your email address, phone number and usernames you have used in the past to see what other information about you comes up, Baird recommends. Checking the image results is helpful, since photos can sometimes pinpoint your exact location through geotagging