Keep Safe on Facebooks

Over the past few weeks, YOURLifeChoices has outlined the benefits of embracing the social networking giant Facebook. However, it does have a dark side. Learning some tricks about security online can help ensure your Facebook experience is a safe one.

Back in our first article, we mentioned the importance of choosing a proper privacy setting for your Facebook account. As previously mentioned, setting your privacy settings to ‘friends’ or ‘friends of friends’ will ensure that your information and Facebook life stays within the circle of friends you trust. Showing wall posts and information to non-friends is always the first step to opening yourself up to being unsecure on Facebook.

The most important choice to make when starting a Facebook account is one any internet user should be familiar with, the password. It is essential that your Facebook password be very strong, and it is also recommended that it is different from the passwords which you use for other, more important accounts such as banking and work email accounts. This is so that in the unlikely event that you are hacked on any of these accounts; it does not mean you are hacked on all of these accounts. Using a combination of words and numbers to ensure password strength is also recommended.

When personalising your information page on your Facebook profile, try not to include too much personal information. Never disclose information such as your address, phone number, credit card details and anything else you believe would be useful for a hacker trying to steal an identity. It is important to remember that Facebook is a fun, social site which people use to keep in contact with a large number of their friends. By all means personalise your profile with your likes, dislikes, interests and activities, but anyone who is viewing the page should already have your address and phone number. If they don’t they can simply ask you for it.

You must always remember that Facebook is a public forum. Anything you post on your wall or a friend’s wall is there for, at the very least, your entire list of friends to see. With this in mind, a certain amount of self-editing is needed when posting online. Should you need to post anything you feel could be sensitive or dangerous to your online security, it is essential to do so in your Facebook Inbox, which is entirely private between you and the friend to which you post the information.

For those with a Facebook and Smartphone, one of the most popular applications to come out in the last year was the amazing technological advancement of ‘foursquare’. This application worked by a user adding the application on your phone and ‘checking in’ to any number of locations around their home town. Friends would compete to check into the most locations, making monotonous chores such as going to work, going home or going to the bank at least worth points on foursquare. However, as a trend people who used this application would post their ‘checking in’ on Facebook, for increased visibility amongst the friendship group. This makes it possible for anyone with ulterior or adverse motives to do any number of things to a foursquare user. Reports exist of stalking, and theoretically, should a noted foursquare user ‘check in’ to work, it would perhaps give someone who has done their research at least a few hours to enter his or her house and rob the place. The possibilities of someone with no morals having access to such limitless information are endless, and a little hard to comprehend. So it is best to stay away from such applications.

Finally, and pivotally, with 500 million people on Facebook, there are likely to be a few rotten apples in the bunch. A trend has begun emerging with noted hacking websites creating fake profiles. If you accept these profiles as a friend, they ‘infect’ your Facebook profile and can do things like change your password, infect your status or post advertisements to virus websites to all of your friends. With this in mind, it is imperative that if you are going to add a friend or accept a friend request on Facebook that you actually know the person, are aware of whom they are or at the very least know that they exist.

While we may have painted a bleak picture of the state of security on Facebook, the truth is that the creators do a wonderful job protecting most profiles from hackers. Still, if you remain constantly vigilant and one step ahead, then your experience on Facebook will be what it was originally designed to be, entirely fun and entirely safe!

If you have any tips of your own or questions about Facebook security, share them on our YOURLifeChoices Facebook fan page!