Ten Privacy Settings on Facebook to Protect Against Identity Theft

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Although you may enjoy using Facebook to keep in touch with your family and friends, it is of utmost importance that you protect your privacy. With the exploding popularity of this social media network, people from all over the world are using this communication medium – some of whom may be very unscrupulous and just waiting for their next victim of identity theft. Facebook does have ways to help you protect your privacy and it is essential that you know and use these settings to your advantage.

  1. Check your list of friends on a frequent basis. When you receive a friend request, make sure that it is from someone you do know. You have the option of ignoring the request or of reporting the person to Facebook if it is someone of whom you have never heard.  You should also organize your friends into groups, such as one for family members and another for co-workers. You do not have to exclude any friends that may be part of more than one list because you are able to add each one to different groupings.

  2. When you sign up for Facebook, the information you add about yourself becomes part of the public domain of the site. Therefore if you comment on a photo or status update, all the friends of this person can have access to your page. Fortunately, Facebook has a way of making sure that this does not happen, but you do have to do the work yourself manually. To remove your name and page from general Internet searches, go to your profile page and click on the link to privacy settings. Here you will find a link entitled “Search Visibility”. Click on that link and select the groups to whom you want to remain visible. Don’t forget to save the changes that you make.

  3. Remove your name from Google searches so that when someone Googles your name your Facebook page will come up in the results. The privacy settings on your Profile page allow you to turn off this feature by making sure that the option for public listing search is turned off.

  4. Everyone likes to share their photos with family and friends. If you place photos on your page, it is important that you do not tag others without their permission. Inform your friends that you do not want to be tagged in any of their photos unless you see the photo first. In this way, no photos can be posted with your name tagged that you do not want others to be aware of. There is also a feature you can choose on your Profile page that allows you to customize tags and keep all photos of you private from those not on your friends’ lists.

  5. Ensure the visibility of photo albums that you add. When you upload photos, there is always a question asking you about the visibility of the album. If you check that it can be seen by anyone, you are really putting your privacy at risk. It is best to choose the lists who are able to view the photos.

  6. The news feeds and status updates are ways in which numerous people can find out what is going on in your life. While you should not post personal messages here, there are times when it does happen. You can prevent any news feeds you post from showing up on your friend’s pages by utilizing the privacy settings from your Profile page. The News Feed and Wall Privacy page is the link that will allow you to control who can view these updates. You have three options to choose from – Everyone, Friends Only and Friends of Friends. It would be a good idea to choose Friends Only to make sure that you do not become the subject of gossip and speculation.

  7. The applications you add to your Facebook page can also interfere with your need for maintaining privacy online. It is important that you carefully check out applications before you add them, even if they are recommended by people from your friends’ list.

  8. Your profile page contains a section where you enter your personal information. While you do want others to know about you, you should never give out any more information than you need to. For example, you should not include your street address or telephone number.

  9. Customizing what you post on your wall will also help protect your privacy on Facebook. By using the “Adjust Wall Posting Visibility” you can control not only who views your posts, but also who can comment on them.

  10. You have a role to play in protecting your privacy on Facebook. You have to control your friends and what you let others know about you. You cannot expect the site to do everything for you.

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