Social Media: Once it’s online, it’s permanent  

Update of social media use: Hootsuite

By Brendon Phuong. Despite its widespread use as a primary communication tool, social media harbors significant security risks. At an IT Policy and Security Community (ITPS) general meeting earlier this year, Monte Ratzlaff, Cyber Risk Program Director at UCOP, underscored the importance of understanding these risks and privacy concerns associated with social media use. We’ve distilled his insights into this blog.  

Overview of social media use 

 Many people around the world use social media to connect and share information about themselves. In fact, in 2022 Hootsuite estimated that number at 4.62 billion. Some of the popular social media platforms include Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and Instagram. These platforms are considered integral parts of modern communication and digital culture, influencing the way individuals interact and share information in the digital age.  

Privacy concerns should concern everyone (not just the president of the United States)   

Along with social media’s benefits, privacy concerns in the digital age are increasingly common. The following notable case examples demonstrate the importance of safeguarding one’s online presence and being cautious about what is shared.  

A woman used Venmo activity to track the main contestant in the TV show The Bachelor and observed their transactions. From these activity details, she could conclude the winner of that season of The Bachelor before it was announced. This highlights the potential risks of oversharing financial information on social platforms.

Similarly, President Biden’s private Venmo account was hacked, showing how even high-profile individuals can have their details exposed through open-source intelligence techniques. 

Social media tips 

Ratzlaff concluded the presentation with a list of tips we can use to help keep ourselves and our data safe. They include: 

  1. Assume everything you post is public 
  2. Check your privacy settings on every platform 
  3. Check your profile to be sure you’re not sharing what you probably shouldn’t (birthday, phone, email, address) 
  4. Disable geo-tagging 
  5. Be mindful about what is in the background of your pics (keys, computer monitor, notes, addresses) 
  6. Avoid announcing that you’ll be on vacation and not at home 

Future IT Policy and Security Community ITPS presentations  

Interested in discussing topics like social media privacy with others in the UC system? Join the University of California’s Information Technology Policy and Security (ITPS) group. The growing ITPS group allows UC security professionals to gather, learn from experts, and share information around cybersecurity, risk management, training, and more. 
Upcoming presentations include:

  • February 14, 2024 – Asset Registration Portal. Presented by UC Berkeley 
  • March 13, 2024 – IS-3 Log Management. Presented by UC San Francisco 
  • June 12, 2024 – UC Responsible AI Principles 

By joining the mailing list and attending the monthly calls (second Wednesday of each month at 9:00 am PT) you can stay informed on UC initiatives and hear case studies from peers throughout UC.  

Sign up to subscribe to the UCITPS listserv here.  

Have an idea for a presentation or a potential speaker? Contact to help build out a robust 2024 calendar year.  

Read more about ITPS on the UC webpage: 

Monte Ratzlaff
Cyber Risk Program Manager
UC Office of the President


Brendon Phuong
Marketing & Communications Intern
UC Office of the President