You can now log in with Google+ on several websites including USA Today, The Guardian, The Fancy and Fitbit. Google+ will increasing become an option on sites that tie to social media accounts by allowing you to log in with Facebook or Twitter. Although logging into another site with an existing social media account is very convenient, there are pros and cons that should be considered before doing so.
- It's convenient. Who wants to create a new account and password just to leave a comment on a news article or buy something? It's so much easier to click log in with Facebook or log in with Google+ or log in with Twitter. No new username to remember. No new password to remember. (You don't reuse passwords across sites, do you?)
- It can grow your audience. If you make a worthwhile comment on a news article and that comment is tied to your Facebook, Google+ or Twitter account people can click to your other account. If they find your posts there as valuable as the comment they saw they may want to follow you there.
- You are weakening the security for your Facebook, Google+ or Twitter account. Every exception you make to requiring a password to access you account weakens your security and increases the chances that your account will be hacked or infected with malicious software.
- You are weakening your security on the site where you log in with Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. You know how you are always hearing about people's Facebook and Twitter accounts getting hacked? If that happens would you want someone to be able to use that access to get to a site where you may have credit card information stored?
- You are tying another identity to what may be unrelated or conflicting activities. Above I talked about growing your audience, but what if you are using a log in with Facebook, Google+ or Twitter option to make a comment that doesn't mesh with the image that you are trying to project on your social media account? Job seekers in particular may want to be wary of this.
- People can find you. Growing your audience is great if they like you, but what if someone who doesn't like your comment another site follows you to your social media account to harass you? Blocking features can help, but it could get out of hand.
- You are adding to your public dossier. Data mining like Facebook Graph Search or Raytheon Riot will only become more common. The more your activities are tied together the more strangers can learn about you. Depending on what they find this might be no big deal, but is the privacy risk worth it?
What should you do?
Since you probably will want the convenience of using the option to log in with Facebook, Google+ or Twitter at least sometimes, follow these tips to help protect your security and privacy.
- Avoid using social media sign ons for ecommerce sites.
- Review the app permissions in your social media accounts, and remove those connections that you don't use frequently.
- Don't log in with Facebook, Google+ or Twitter on a site where you may be posting this that do not relate well to your public posts on the social media site.
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