Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Facebook Security and Privacy Best Practices

Facebook is the most popular social networking site. Nearly all of my friends have Facebook accounts. They log on to Facebook at least a couple of times a day. Most of them use recommended Facebook's privacy settings and share some information that I think should not be published at all. So, I decided to share my thoughts on Facebook privacy settings and how to avoid Facebook scams. I hope you will find this information useful. So, let's start with some basic rules and recommendations:

Creating a Strong Password

Create a strong password to protect your account from others. The main rule – don’t use common words or names as your password and if you do, then make them complicated to decode. This means not only tacking numbers at the end, which is, actually, ineffective way, but mixing upper and lower-case letters, symbols and numbers. For example, the word "elephants" can be modified to: eLEp25haNTs. Moreover, your password should be at least eight characters long. Don't forget to add such special characters as @, #, $, %, &, " to make your password even difficult to guess or hack. For example: eLEp25h@NT$.

Information about Your Birthday

Probably you would never expect that such simple information can be used against you. However this might be a key for identity thieves to gain access to your bank or credit account and therefore it is not recommended to show your full birth date in your profile. Instead, show only the month and the day or no birthday at all. You can modify this information by going to your profile page, clicking on the Info tab and then on Edit Information.

Choosing Your Privacy Settings

Facebook allows to choose the information you want to share and who can see it. This means that you can limit access to your biography, relationships, photos, videos, posts, status and other items for certain people or group, your friends, friends of friends and completely strangers. For instance, make your profile information available only for your friends thus ensuring that unknown people will not check where you live and what you do. By the way, your contact information, such as address and phone number, should not be published at all, since you probably don’t want unexpected guests or calls.

Telling Everyone About Your Plans

Posting such kind of information as you going on vacations or just going out, might be a hint for someone, that your house will be empty at that time. So better share it after you get home.

Prevent the Search Engines to Find You

Almost everyone’s profile can be found by Google or other search engine – just type that person’s name and surname. That is how, for example, the employers are gaining more information about the person they want to employ. Any stranger can do the same. So, if you want to protect your privacy, make sure that public search is disabled. Go to the Search section of Facebook’s privacy controls and select Only Friends for Facebook search results.

Publishing Your Child's Name

Don’t use a child’s name in captions or photo tags and don’t allow for others. If someone does, ask that person to remove the name and the tag.

Monitoring Your Child Activities in Facebook

First of all, you should know that according to Facebook policy children under the age of 13 are not allowed to have the account. Nevertheless they still do. For that reason it is very important to control their and teenagers activities. The best way to do that is to use your e-mail address as the contact for your child account or at least become his or her online friend. Then you will be able to receive and check the notifications. Pay attention to comments like "I have to go now, because my parents are coming back from work soon", "I am alone at home for the weekend" as they are pointing out the time when adults are not at home.

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