Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stood before the US congress to answer questions about data misuse and how or if Facebook protects its users’ personal information. In his three-hour testimony he pointed to the fact that his social network does have issues and fundamental changes are needed to win back people’s trust.

Zuckerberg admitted that he did not take a broad enough view of the company’s responsibility, he said it was his mistake and he also apologised, but can the team behind Facebook, or any other social media platform take all the blame? Surely the users must know about their security settings, ways in which they can keep their data safe and understand that although these platforms do provide us with ways to connect, we should still understand that what we put out there, is out there.

In order to make sure our private information remains private on social media we can:

Unique passwords for each social network – it is easy to just find one password that is easy for you to remember and stick with that to access all your social media accounts. It is also easy for hackers to access your account this way. If a hacker gains access to one account, then they will gain access to all your accounts if you use one password. They will then be able to lock you out of all your accounts and you will have no way of connecting and all your personal data will be in the hands of someone who wants to misuse it.

Keep an eye on your mailbox – most of us have no idea how we can be hacked, about the techniques behind it or even how data can be misused. Before you are made aware of how your information can be manipulated, it would be good to know that hackers can access your social accounts by sending a direct message to you. The hackers send a rogue link in a message or email that easily exposes your passwords. But don’t think that the email you will receive will stand out like a sore thumb, it will look like it is from a friend or an organisation you frequently make contact with.

Keep your personal data to a minimum – when using social media platforms do not give too much away. Hackers can scower your account for personal details that can easily unlock the magical numbers and letters of your password. Date of birth is a classic one, and the name of your pet is also a key question that the internet likes to ask us when we ourselves have forgotten our password. Use social media platforms to stay connected and share your news but be cautious about just how personal you want to get.

Report spam – most of us get lots of spam emails every day and we are comfortable to just delete them. But if we all hit the Report Spam button instead of the Delete button, then the social networking services will monitor where the emails are coming from and if enough people report the spam, the account will be removed.