How To Stay Safe On Facebook
Facebook – undoubtedly the world’s largest social network at the moment – connects people across borders and beyond all barriers. There are more than 150 million Facebook users worldwide, utilizing the website to keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues. At the same time, Facebook allows users to introduce themselves to the world as they see fit, offering personal information both significant and mundane.
But the Internet has a way of whittling down personal barriers and common sense. Whereas any person would be wary of sharing private details with people they meet at bars or on the street, most Facebook users do not seem to think twice before over-sharing on the social networking site, leading to serious consequences such as dismissal from work, identity theft and susceptibility to spyware and viruses.
Despite these concerns, a user need not quit Facebook to regain privacy. Facebook itself has offered a slew of tools and settings that would help any user protect his information without ever having to give up the networking ease and convenience that the networking site provides.
So how does one stay safe on Facebook? Here are a few steps to remember:
(1) Create a strong but memorable password and DON’T share it with anyone. First things first: a user’s basic line of defense in using any form of media or the Internet is the password. Use letters, numbers and symbols to create a strong password to keep your account safe. Equally important: do not share your password, even with the people closest to you.
(2) Don’t reveal sensitive information. It seems innocuous to share your birthday, address or contact number on Facebook, as this is a site that promotes networking after all. However, these details can and will probably be used by identity thieves; your birth date can be used to access your bank or credit card account.
(3) Hide yourself from search engines. This prevents strangers and other unwanted characters from accessing your page and gaining information about you.
(4) Be wary of Facebook third-party applications. Facebook quizzes may seem interesting and a good way to pass the time, but have you stopped to consider the amount of information you’re inadvertently giving the quiz creators? In joining certain Facebook third-party applications and quizzes, you’re essentially authorizing the application creators to access your data indiscriminately.
(5) Be wary of friends using Facebook third-party applications. Even though you may be wary of third-party applications, your friends are probably not. When they give access to games and quizzes, they’re unknowingly sharing the information of the friends in their network as well.
(6) Make a friends list. You have a lot of people in your network, and the term “friend” really is used a bit loosely on Facebook. You would love to share wacky drunken pictures with your college buddies, but dread showing them to your parents, professors and colleagues, right? Facebook allows you to create friends lists, with each list having different degrees of access to your information, depending on what you allow them to see.
(7) Make the most of Facebook’s security features. A lot of Facebook users probably do not delve more into the site beyond the usual profile and games. The truth is that Facebook has offered the user the means to rein in their information sharing and protect their privacy. The aptly named “Privacy Settings” allow you to customize the amount of information you’re sharing with the world.
(8) Censor yourself. Many of the gaffes we hear of in the news results not from Facebook’s features, but because some users forgot that they were technically broadcasting their thoughts to the world, not just a small community of people who understood their sense of humor. More and more employers are starting to check Facebook as a part of their hiring process, so beware of what you’re posting and what it says about you.
In any case, Facebook has already provided the users with security options. It’s not perfect (what with the third-party applications and their undisclosed use of personal data from users), so it’s up to the user to make sure that enough barriers are in place – just enough to protect himself, without negating the benefits of connecting with friends all over the world.
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