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Facebook is the world’s most popular networking site. At a rate of 1,000,000,000 + users, it’s not going away any time soon. Many users have a few close “friends”, and even more see friends as a way of collecting tokens. It doesn’t matter how well they know the person, if they want to be a “friend” they are accepted to increase the numbers. On a business level, this can help you reach the masses. On a personal level, you need to consider the dangers of allowing people you really don’t know into your world.

In consideration of this, we have gathered a few safety tips for personal Facebook users. In many cases some of you have probably never considered the dangers of what you are posting and making available to the world.

  1. It’s not just about you.
    It really isn’t all about the numbers of friends. Remember when you accept that “friend request” they will be privy to lots of information about you and the people you are associated with depending on everyone’s privacy settings. Keep your personal conversations private by messaging the person instead.
  2. Think about who you add.
    Your “friends”, whether you really know them or not, will have access to you.
    Your posts, photographs, messages posted to your wall and all the background information you post about yourself.Remember, you can delete friends at any time, so perhaps it’s time to refresh your list and think about who you really want accessing your information.
  3.  Check your settings.
    Facebook seems to keep making upgrades and as a result, your privacy settings can change. It’s important to go through and adjust them when necessary to avoid “over-sharing” what you don’t want to. Visit Facebook.com/safety  for more detailed safety info.
  4. Set a complicated password.
    You often hear about someone’s Facebook account getting “hacked”. This happens when you use a plain-word password. Try not to use basic words you can find in the dictionary. Mix it up with capital letters, numbers and punctuation. Also, make sure your security questions and updates are going to a current email address.  This will safeguard you against hackers.
  5. Be aware of where you log in from.
    If you are using a public computer, make sure it does not store your email address and password. It seems simple, but if you accidentally choose “remember me”, it will.
  6. Be careful of what you say.
    It seems this is the most important, yet the most careless area of social sharing. Keeping in mind #2, if you have hundreds and hundreds of friends, chances are you don’t really know all of them. Make sure what you say in the stays updates and comments is something you would be comfortable seeing on the front page of a newspaper. Once you post it, anyone that sees it can share it.Do you really want everyone to know you are going away on vacation or that you will be alone at home tonight?  Check out this website about over-sharing: PleaseRobMe.com 
  7. What you post can affect your future endeavors.
    Companies and colleges are now, more than ever, checking Facebook profiles to help in the hiring or acceptance process. These are some deal-breakers that could impact your future:

    1. Pictures of you drinking or drunk, even simply holding a drink in your hand. Always remember, even the most innocent photos can be misinterpreted.
    2. Any mention of drugs or illegal activity. This is a no-brainer, but even if you are joking, again it can be misinterpreted.
    3. Angry rants. If you’re angry, chances are you are “unfiltered” in the heat of the moment. You immediately risk the chance of offending someone, being inappropriate or interpreted as mean. Always pause before you submit. If you feel the urge to Facebook rant, don’t.
  8. Protect your mobile device.
    Most cell phones have apps that connect you directly to your Facebook account without logging in. Be sure to protect your mobile device by logging out when you are not using them.
  9. Checking in with your kids.
    Be sure to talk to your kids about what is acceptable and what is safe to share online. Most do not have automatic sharing “filters” in place.  Things like “we’re going on vacation today for a week”,  “my parents are getting a divorce” or “my dad didn’t get a promotion” – anything you would not, again, put on the front page of a newspaper. Check in on their posts regularly and delete any over-sharing content immediately.They are smart, they can also have other “profiles” with different user names and passwords. Teach them that what they post can be permanent. If they post a provocative photo of themselves in a revealing bathing suit all it takes is one person to see it, copy it and it’s on it’s own journey of duplication throughout the Internet.