Election Security Spotlight – Social Media Security

An Overview of Personal Protection on Social Media

Today’s society spends an increasing amount of time on the internet, particularly on social media platforms. Social media allows users to create and share content or ideas on a virtual network. While social media provides an excellent means to stay connected with family and friends and can be a great source of entertainment, there is also a heightened risk of exposing your personal information and intrusion of your privacy. Implementing a few guidelines to safeguard your personal information and decrease your online presence can mitigate the risk of being a target of cyber attacks and falling victim to social engineering.

Why It Matters

As technology rapidly advances, protecting your personal information and privacy is more important than ever. Given that election officials have high-profile jobs and that voting is an integral part of democracy in the United States, election officials are at a greater risk of being the target of cyber attacks and social engineering attempts. It is crucial that all election officials take the necessary steps to decrease their footprint on social media platforms for the protection of their personal information and privacy, their family members, their staff, and their organization. If you cannot decrease your digital footprint on social media platforms, it is especially important to adjust your privacy settings to keep your accounts as secure as possible.

Social Media Security Tips

Here are a few guidelines to consider:

  • Delete any old or unused social media accounts. If you have social media accounts that you no longer use or monitor, it is best to delete them. Deleting your social media accounts is the most effective way to minimize your online presence and mitigate any potential security risks that may arise. Please note that you cannot recover a social media account once you delete it, so please take care to retrieve any photos or messages that you value before permanently deleting your account.
  • Limit what you share on social media. Be mindful of the information you share on social media. Avoid posting any personal or sensitive information, such as your home address, phone number, email address, and even the date and location of upcoming travel plans. If you post on social media, it is safe to assume that someone saw it, even if you quickly delete it. 
  • Adjust your privacy settings. You can change your privacy and security settings to limit who sees the information you share on social media.  It is recommended that you adjust privacy settings so that “friends only” can see your posted content.
  • Exercise caution with whom you connect. Be cognizant of your friends on social media and any friend requests you receive. If you do not personally know someone, consider if you should be friends with that individual on social media. If you receive a friend request from someone you do not know, be cautious about accepting. Limit your social media friends to those that you know.
  • Disable location services. It is not advisable to share your location when posting on social media. Sharing your location allows any friends or followers to know where you are, as well as where you are not, anytime you post on a social media. For your personal safety and the safety of your family, your staff, and your organization, please consider disabling location services on all social media platforms.
  • Keep business and personal accounts separate. As election officials, it is important to communicate with voters across various social media platforms. However, it is recommended that you not associate your personal social media accounts with your organization’s social media accounts. For the purposes of enhancing security, maintaining professionalism, avoiding conflicts of interest, and dealing transitions among staff, it is best to tie all social media accounts to the organization rather than to personal accounts.

Implementing some or all of these guidelines on your personal social media accounts is the first step to safeguarding your personal information and privacy on social media. In addition, please visit the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency's (CISa's) website for additional tips regarding social media, such as this BE CYBER SMART publication.

Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions.