Facebook is everywhere – everyone’s on it at home, everyone checks it on their phones, and it’s even coming to movie theaters this fall thanks to The Social Network! But what you say and do on Facebook can come back to haunt you; future employers can get the wrong idea about who you are based on bad photos and identity thieves can ruin your credit. Here are five ways to stay safe on Facebook:
- Share With Caution: Does everyone in the world really need to see your vacation photos or those photos from the bar last Friday night? Or do you just care about showing it to your friends? We suspect it’s the latter, so set your privacy level to “Friends Only.” This way, people can still find you online, but they can’t see what you’re sharing unless you let them.
- Know Your Friends: If you don’t know who is sending you that friend request, don’t accept it. It could be anybody from a spammer to an identity thief. Just like when you were a kid – don’t talk to strangers.
- Consider Obscuring Your Identity: Some people run more than one account on Facebook: One for their personal life and one for their professional one. If you’re in an important position or if you could be embarrassing to someone (like, say, your mom or dad is a politician), this might not be a bad road to consider.
- Pare Down Your Personal Information: Everything from your birthdate to your phone number can be used by identity thieves. Only share personal information that is important and can be found anywhere else.
- Filter Your Photos: The photos of you from the UCLA Undie Run or your impromptu amateur pole dancing exhibition at the local bar might be funny, but think about your friend list. Is your boss on there? Your significant other? You mom or dad? If so, maybe some photos are best left on your personal hard drive.
What else can you do to stay safe and keep some level of privacy on the Internet and at sites like Facebook?