Facebook has revolutionized the way we interact with others online. We can upload pictures, share stories, and catch up with old friends. Facebook is so popular that most Americans with Internet access use Facebook at least once a month (how do you compare?).
Many users share most of their private, sensitive personal information without even realizing the danger they may be subjecting themselves to. However, you can easily protect yourself by taking just a few minutes to update your account. Here are some simple changes you may want to make to your account:
- Hide your basic information—Many people join Facebook and happily fill out their full birthday, address, colleges they graduated from, and many other pieces of information that would help an identity thief easily steal your identity. Sure, this information help your friends find you, but is it worth the potential risk? I have not filled out the majority of this information, and what I have filled out, I don’t share with anyone. Why take a chance?
- Don’t share all of your plans—People like to share what they are doing, especially if they are on vacation, but try to save those vacation pictures and status updates until you are back home. Otherwise, you may be letting potential thieves know your house is empty and open for the taking. Hopefully your own friends wouldn’t burglarize you, but have you set your privacy settings so only your friends see your updates, not friends of friends or everyone? To do this, go to the box where you can type a status update and hit “custom” and then choose who you want to see your status update.
- Hide from the search engines—Would you like to use Facebook but don’t want to share your information with friends you haven’t seen in 20 years or potential employers who might find your Facebook page via an Internet search? There is an easy way to hide from the search engines—Go to account, then privacy settings, then ads, apps, and websites. Hit the edit settings button for public search. Uncheck the box “enable public search” if you don’t want your name and photos to be found by search engines.
- Keep those embarrassing pictures off your Wall—Did you have a crazy night out and your friends want to share all of the pictures and tag you? There is a way to avoid that. Go to account, then privacy settings, then timeline and tagging. Hit edit settings. There will be several questions you can edit. You can decide to get notification when someone tags you and decide to put it on your wall or not. You can also approve what others put on your wall when tagging you.
- Keep apps from accessing your information—You have control whether or not you let an app access all of your information. (I never do.) However, did you know that unless you opt out, your friends can let an app access their information and YOURS? I didn’t realize this. Luckily, there is an easy solution. Go to account, then privacy settings, then ads, apps and websites. Hit the edit settings button. Once in the new screen, you will see “How people bring their info to the apps they use.” Click on edit, and then unclick every piece of info you do not want to share.
- Don’t share your photo albums—Facebook is automatically set for any of your photo albums to be shared with everyone. Someone could be searching for you on the Internet and look through all of your photo albums unless you prevent it by clicking on privacy under the create albums tab and choosing friends or only me. Remember, you must do this manually with every album you create, even if you have already set the privacy settings with your other albums.
- Opt out of apps and quizzes—Facebook used to allow apps to keep your info for 24 hours. Now the app can keep your information indefinitely. If this makes you uncomfortable, go to Account, then Apps, and delete all of the apps you are not using. I thought I didn’t use the apps, but I was still surprised how many I found there.
Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. However, it is best to be cautious and assume that Facebook would like you to share your information with everyone. To truly protect yourself, take these steps to make your personal information private.
(photo: hyku )