Facebook is a great place for connecting with old friends and keeping in touch with family, but it can also be dangerous to both users and their computers. Oversharing, poor security settings, and rampant viruses can cause more problems than you might think. Staying safe on Facebook requires a little thought and a whole lot of self-control.
Tips for staying safe on Facebook
- Create a strong password. Your password is your first line of defense against hackers, so make sure it is a good one. Throw in a few numbers and symbols to make it more difficult to crack. Definitely avoid using anything that could be easily figured out by going through your profile. Kids’ names, pets, and birthdays should be avoided.
- Check your privacy settings. Make sure that only your friends can see the majority of your information. The only thing that should be public is your name, and only if you want people to be able to find you. Keep your pictures and status updates to just friends.
- Speaking of friends, be selective in who you choose to friend on Facebook. At first, you may want to reconnect with every person you ever knew in your childhood to the present. While this can be fun, think about how well you really know your best friend from kindergarten now. If you haven’t seen them in 20 years, you have no idea what type of person they are now. Stick to friending people you actually know today.
- Turn off location information. There is really no reason to let the whole world know where you are at all times. Checking in can tell potential thieves that you are not at home, giving them ample opportunity to rob your home.
- Watch your language and wording. This tip is important if you have coworkers, your boss, or other people who can make or break your career on your friend list. The last thing you want to do is say something inappropriate about your job and have it get back to your boss!
- Don’t air your dirty laundry. So many family fights take place on Facebook these days and get far more vicious than they would in person. Fighting in public is not only uncouth, it’s also a good way to let unscrupulous people know what is happening in your family or circle of friends so that they can potentially take advantage of an already difficult situation.
- Don’t click on links unless you are sure of the source. Facebook is ripe ground for spreading viruses and malware. Clicking on a link when you don’t know where it leads can cause serious harm to your computer.
Remember, social networks can be fun and productive — they’re a great place to make new social and business connections — just use common sense when using them to ensure your safety and that of your computer.
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