Facebook Security: How to Keep Yourself Safe on Facebook
Facebook is one of the many social networking sites available on the internet. It is the norm today for teens and some adults to have accounts on the site.
On it, you are able to keep up to date with the latest your friends have been up to and also to have a voice of your own. However, with its openness, there is a high risk of it being exploited.
In Australia, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) have urged teenagers to remove their profile pictures and personal details after a young Sydney woman, Nona Belomesoff, 18, was murdered after meeting a man she befriended on Facebook in early May 2010.
In Britain, convicted serial rapist, Peter Chapman, 35, posed as Peter Cartwright, befriended Ashleigh Hall, 17 and later on would rape and kill her. Chapman was convicted for life.
In the Post Courier (15th October 2010), there was an article about young females’ pictures being harvested on the popular site and doctored into pornographic material.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on the dangers of the site.
I have listed a few tips to protect yourself and your friends and family when on Facebook or the internet.
Choose Your Friends Carefully
In light of the tragic incident in Britain, strong protests against Facebook were staged with a good number of people deleting people they did not know personally from their friends list and even to the extent of deactivating their accounts. So the best thing to do is not become friends with people you don’t know personally.
You have to ask yourself if the person who are friends with is actually who they claim to be. I also have a simple practice with this – if someone is not using a real name or nicknames – I won’t accept them as friends unless I know them personally.
It may seem harsh but onscreen personas can be totally different or the person could not be what you expect.
Remember Facebook is not a popularity contest. You don’t have to be friends with everyone you meet.
Read the Terms & Conditions Before Accepting Any Requests
In haste of joining a social group or club many of us tend to skip perusing the finer details of the “terms and conditions” and jump straight to the “accept” button. If you are one of them, like me, you should be in a straight jacket.
Facebook while being a freely social network to the public generates its income from advertising. So its main objective – yes, you’ve guessed it – is to get as many people it can. Just take a look at a standard page, about 75% of its content would be advertisements.
In order to do so it must device loopholes it uses to share your information to potential advertisers. For example, there are options in Facebook to allow your friends’ friends to view your information. That means that a total stranger could be looking at your information at this very moment!
This leads directly to our next tip.
Make Sure to Change Your Settings
If you have a Facebook account and have never changed your privacy settings, I suggest you do that now. In most cases, the default setting allows for easier access to your general information.
Go to your account settings and change it to your own preferences.
Report & Delete “Friends” that You Feel Have Ulterior Motives to Befriend You
Believe it or not, some people have ulterior when becoming friends on Facebook even if you know them personally. The anonymity of the web provides a sense of security that many people do not have when in face-to-face interaction.
I have often seen people post nasty and unbecoming comments that they would not normally do when face-to-face.
I have seen people post all sort of nasty comments and remarks on Facebook. Are these people really worth being ‘friends’ with?
If someone is negative and writes derogatory remarks, you should remove them as a friend.
Make Your Stand Clear
When initially setting up your Facebook account, ensure that you clearly indicate your reasons for joining and your marital status.
If you leave it open, you are bound to attract all sorts of unsolicited requests
Careful with What You Say
Being selective to who views your comments may seem unsocial but people interpret things differently depending on their culture, background and sanity.
Sounds funny doesn’t it but a simple comment could trigger all sorts of emotions and reactions. I’ve seen this in Papua New Guinea’s Facebook group SharpTalk.
Hypothetically, if someone on Facebook is obsessed with you and is stalking you, then commenting about upcoming events that you would be attending is like painting a target on yourself
Be careful what you say.
Monitor Your Child’s Web Activity
I reserved the last for parents who have children under the age of 18 accessing Facebook or the internet.
Make sure you keep an eye on your kid’s web activity.Kids are the easiest targets for online predators and the deranged.
Child pornography and pedophilia poses the greatest risk to any child with internet access.
- Stay away from strangers;
- Know your terms;
- Change your settings;
- Only keep real friends;
- Make known what you want;
- Careful what you say, and importantly to the parents;
- Watch your kids.
These tips serve only as a guide to help you make your own decisions. Accepting and socializing with people is an individual choice and is best left to one’s own judgment. In short, choose your friends carefully.
If you need more information on keeping safe on Facebook, then I suggest reading Russel Mickler’s book Simple Facebook Privacy: How to Reduce Your Risk Online (Volume 1).
Happy and safe socializing everyone!