Cleaning up your social media and passwords: What to throw away and what to cherish

Give your social media presence a good scrubbing, audit your passwords and other easy ways to bring order to your digital clutter

Spring has arrived, the sunrises are longer, and the birdsong, peeping and chirping in the trees have put a much needed pep in your steps. With the arrival of spring comes the annual ritual of declaring and cleansing your abode. If you’ve done a major home refresh, next is cleaning up the digital clutter that has invaded your computers and smartphones, as well as your home network and all the devices connected to it. However, there is more to digital spring cleaning.

If you’re like most people, you are use at least one social media platform almost every day. It goes without saying that all of your posts, comments, likes and more contribute greatly to your digital footprint, so much so that your social media profiles are like a front window that allows people a peek into your personal life. And therein lies the friction that many of us are not aware of.

Let’s see how you can clean up and tidy up your social media presence and increase the security of your account so that your private life stays private.

Tidy up your digital footprint

Many people have used Facebook and other social media platforms for at least a decade. Some of these may actually no longer exist (Google+), others may no longer exist in the form they once knew (MySpace or LastFM), while others may simply evolve and be used in a different way than before. Maybe start by asking yourself these questions: Am I on MySpace, LastFm, or another platform again? What’s stopping me from quickly deleting my account there?

Simply put, the more social media profiles you have, the more difficult this annual spring cleansing ritual will be. Over time, you may desperately want to share some of your most private information with the world or post something you later regret. Do all your posts, both recent and from the past, still need lots of people to see? Also, maybe you’ve been friends with a lot of people you barely know or don’t even remember adding them to your friends list? Maybe it’s time you cleaned up your digital footprint.

Facebook’s “Memories” feature, for example, might be a good incentive to delete your old posts, review who can see your activity or find you on the site, or to make other adjustments to your privacy settings. Facebook Privacy Checkup allows you to do this quite easily.

For any platforms you still want/need to use, review them and make sure you are comfortable with your current privacy settings. After all, remember that, unless you make an intentional choice, what goes on the internet, stays on the internet.

And while you’re at it, lock down your account by ensuring that you’re using a strong, unique password that’s strong and unique and that you’ve enabled two-factor authentication (2FA).

Free blogs and websites

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and forget about it blogs You created it while in high school or university – maybe long before you started posting your stuff on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms.

If that’s the case, it’s time to check if remnants of your past still exist and if you still want that searching soul to be there for all the world to see. There have been cases where information from people’s lives that was posted on old blogs was misused 20 years later to thwart the password recovery process.

In addition, many people, including (or especially?) those who have grown up with technology, but may often be unaware of the privacy and security risks that its use may pose and only learn about it “the hard way”, i.e. after falling victim to cyberattacks.

Let’s move on to the only and potential curse of our digital existence – passwords.

Aim for better account security

First things first, we are NOT asking you to change all of your passwords regularly and just for the sake of doing it. Study and experience show that this alone does not necessarily lead to better security – maybe just the opposite, doubling if you do it on autopilot. Here’s what you can do instead.

Get a password manager

Password managers are a great and inexpensive way to increase your account security, doubly so if included as part of a security program package, such as ESET Smart Security Premium. This ‘password vault’ makes the job of generating strong and unique passwords for each of your online accounts easy, thereby helping you avoid some of the most common password mistakes – using easy-to-hack passwords and recycling your passwords across multiple accounts on line.

With a password manager, you only need to remember one master password (so you’d better make sure it’s a very strong password)! To make it easier to remember without compromising password security, don’t use abbreviations or single words. Instead, choose passphrases and even entire sentences, complete with various punctuation marks, special characters, capital letters, and spaces.

That way, you’re more likely to come up with a password of so many characters that the task of guessing your password becomes impossible. Ideally, the passphrase should not be related to the login process itself, but – “I’m logged into the password manager!” doesn’t make a good master password.

Audit your password

If any of your passwords – especially those that “secure” your valuable online accounts – match or closely resemble the world’s most common passwords, it’s time to get to work. The easiest fix involves letting your password manager generate unique, impossible-to-remember passwords for all of your online accounts.

Don’t know where to start or how strong your password is? Check ESET own password generator and watch the video below.


Now, why should each password be unique? That’s because if a password is stolen or leaked, criminals will often try the same username/password combination to break into someone else’s account. They can also use the “forgot password” option to gain access to your valuable online accounts.

If possible, enable notifications about all login changes and you should confirm password changes via a second email address at another provider or a push message on your smartphone. Avoid sharing your passwords with others as they can compromise your personal data, even if you don’t know it.

Get the second factor

Two-factor authentication (2FA), sometimes also called two-step verification (2SV), is a great way to close the door on cybercriminals even if your password is stolen or leaked. In other words, without knowing your login data And have access to your smartphone, cyber criminals will not be able to crack into your account. It’s all thanks to using another authentication factor on top of your username and password combination.

There are several 2FA options – a custom hardware security key, a code generated in an authenticator app, text messages, or maybe even biometric data like your facial or fingerprint recognition. Many online services today, including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Apple, offer 2FA features for account protection. Unfortunately, it’s not enabled by default, so be sure to find and enable it in your account’s security and privacy settings.

Separation of thoughts

So there you have it. I hope this mini-series has helped you clean up your cyber mess, enhance your devices, make room for new beginnings, and most importantly, improve your online privacy and security in the long term so that the next round of spring digital cleanup will be easy.

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