The sad fact is that I don’t write for USA Carry full time—in truth, I don’t even write about guns full time. In my “day job” I’m the editor-in-chief and CEO of a media firm, which means I spend a lot of time supervising various creative projects and helping clients manage their media profiles. With this under my belt, I’ve got a fair amount of expertise in social media and I know a bit about handling it correctly. I’ll even go so far as to say that social media (Facebook, Twitter, et al) is a fantastic tool if you use it right.
However, there are important security considerations for every user, and they tend to go double for those of us actively involved in that pew-pew life. In sharing your life online, you can inadvertently reveal information that can make you a target for thieves (“This house, he’s got like six AR15s”) or anti-Second Amendment activists (That guy’s carrying a gun RIGHT NOW!). Avoiding this hassles is vital to your safety and sanity. Here are some tips to help you go about it.
First, remember the de facto golden rule of social media: Digital is Forever. The days of online data vanishing without a trace are long gone; it’s best to assume that anything you share online will be forever archived someplace. Be very selective in what you share online—ask yourself “would it hurt me to have this become public knowledge?” If the answer is yes, don’t post it.
Secondly, take a look at the platforms you use and how you use them. Who are you sharing your information with? This will vary from platform to platform—Twitter, for instance, is relatively public while Facebook and Instagram allow you to focus your audience a bit more. Make sure your message is going to the right people, even if this means purging your friends list (Protip: block problematic folks rather than just de-friending/unfollowing them. That way they can’t see what you’re doing at all.) And be very careful when allowing new people access to your social media as friends or followers.
Toward that end, I strongly recommend that you use the highest security settings that a given platform allows. On Facebook, for instance, this would include adjusting your preferences such that only those whom you have friended can see what you’re posting. Potential employers, people doing background checks, criminals, and stalkers can and will try to use your social media to gather information about you. Don’t let them.
It may seem obvious several decades into the Information Age, but make sure you’re using good passwords, that you keep them secure, and that you change them regularly. There are some good online guides for how to do that, and I suggest you follow them.
My final suggestion is a bit more philosophical and personal: take some time to consider what role social media really plays in your life. Ideally, it’s just a fun way to share information about your interest and connect with like minded people. Keeping some perspective on what you’re doing with your online life can help you make better choices about the information you’re sharing. The internet, as they say, is serious business, but you can choose your level of engagement.
That should get you started and go a long way toward helping you avoid the chief headaches of being a Second Amendment supporter in an increasingly interconnected world. Shameless self-promotion: my team and I are available if you’d like to discuss your individual questions, media needs, or information security strategies. Get in touch.