The 8 Most Important Ways to Protect Your Identity and Privacy on Facebook: #1

Tips & Tricks

Facebook is literally all fun and games—until it gets you fired, or embarrassed, or hacked.

For the second year in a row, an F-Secure survey has found that nearly 3 out of 4 Facebook members are not “friends” with their boss on the site. A steady feed of news about people losing jobs over comments or images they’ve posted on Facebook has made many of us worried about who we friend and what we post.

An US court recently ruled that you should expect anything you post on a social could go viral—no matter what your privacy settings are. Even if the courts where you live aren’t as skeptical of social networking privacy, the fact remains: if you post something on Facebook, you never know who might see it. So even if you never post about your job or ever worry about having to find a new job, you know there are risks of sharing your private life on Facebook.

Social networking has only become a mainstream phenomenon in the past decade. Most of us are still learning the etiquette and risks of social media. That doesn’t mean social networking is any more dangerous than any online communication. For most people, the dangers of social networking are roughly as perilous as those of email. You could send the wrong thing to the wrong person, open a bad file and infect your PC or give criminals access to your account or private information.

For this guide, I’m assuming you know the basics of PC security. You have a strong password and your PC is patched and protected. I figure you lock your computer or smartphone, and you would never leave yourself logged in to Facebook on a computer you aren’t using. If you’re doing all that, you’re avoiding most of the serious threats you’ll find online. Now you’re ready to get into advanced strategies for staying safe on Facebook.

1. Unless you have a good reason not to, use the “Friends Only” privacy setting.
Have you noticed that people you don’t know appear in your Facebook feed?  Those are friends of your friends. They’re showing up because they either commented on something a friend of yours posted or vice versa. And you may be appearing in strangers’ feeds in the same exact way—if your privacy settings are at “Friends of Friends.”

One reason Facebook is so popular is because it replicates the social context of our lives. We feel as if we are in the presence of friends and family—some of whom we haven’t seen in person since before there was a Facebook. That makes us comfortable. Maybe even a little too comfortable.

By going to Account> Privacy Settings> and selecting “Friends Only”, you are only sharing with the people you’ve approved as friends. You can still change specific settings to make them more or less public. But you’ve created a boundary you can imagine in your head.

(If you’re on Facebook to market yourself or a product, you should definitely start a Facebook page or switch your profile to a page.)

On Facebook, the one thing you can always control is what you post. You can’t control your friends’ comments on what you post, and you can’t—in any immediate way—stop other people from taking your information or media and resharing them. This is why some people prefer Twitter where your information is either private or public. If someone comments on or repeats your posts, they do it on their own profile. On Facebook, strangers can comment on everything you do—unless you change your privacy settings to limit access to “Friends Only.”

Some people are so comfortable on Facebook they may not even realize they are sharing private details that can be used to crack passwords or security questions. The average Facebook user has 130 friends. If you’re simply opening your life to all of your friends, you’re opening your life to 16,900 people. That’s great if you’re actively seeking new friends. But it is a lot or one brain to process. And you can always visit your friends’ walls and click on their friends if you’re looking for new people

“Friends only” not only is a good move to protect your privacy and identity, you may find that it also helps your Facebook experience by freeing you up to give more attention to the people you care about most.

The 8 Most Important Ways to Protect Your Identity and Privacy on Facebook

  1. Unless you have a good reason not to, use the “Friends Only” privacy setting.
  2. Turn on Secure Browsing
  3. Secure your account
  4. Take a look at what others see when they see you and decide if you want search engines to find your profile.
  5. Turn off Instant Personalization and audit your apps
  6. Watch where you click
  7. Decide if you want your name and image to appear in Facebook ads.
  8. Start using Facebook lists.

This guide is in progress, so let us know what you think. What are the best ways to protect your identity and privacy on Facebook?

Cheers,
Jason

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13 Comments

I found this information handy, expecially since I believe that I may have been denied a position as a graduate nurse due to comments made on facebook. It’s strange to think that the thing that brings people together can also ruin them. Keep up the good work F secure.

To add, you can use a FB or LinkedIn account as credentials for other websites which automatically use images etc. It’s slick but scary since I don’t know what else is accessible. I never post travel info nor pics of my children and limit other pics / personal info. Keep in mind that what you “like” can easily be used to set up a profile of you too.

Peace & Greetings F-Secure,
My life is an open book. Good, Bad or ugly…I’ve lived a life of openess. It’s given me a life of freedom I know was bought and paid for in blood.
Your software has protected my boxes for ages….worth 10 times it’s nominal cost. Thanks for the tips to prevent against “Human engineers” who work our last nerve trying to rip us off or trip us up.
Trust in HIM
Greg at TheZamZuuNation

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