Tips: Protect Your Privacy While Using Facebook
The number of online U.S. households using social networks such as Facebook and MySpace has nearly doubled in the past year expanding online opportunities for criminals. According to Consumer Reports latest State of the Net survey, in the past year, 52 percent of adult social network users have posted personal information such their full birth date which can increase their risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime.
Social networks are a fast and easy way to share information and photos with friends. Consumer Reports offers tips of habits to stop when using Facebook.
1. Using a weak password. Avoid simple names or words that can be found
in a dictionary, even with numbers tacked on the end. Instead, mix
upper -- and lower -- case letters, numbers and symbols. A password should
have at least eight characters. One good technique is to insert
numbers or symbols in the middle of the word.
2. Listing a full birth date. Listing a full birth date -- month, day and
Year -- makes a user an easy target for identity thieves, who can use
it to obtain more personal information and potentially gain access to
bank and credit card accounts. Choose to show only the month and day
or no birthday at all.
3. Overlooking useful privacy controls. Facebook users can limit access
for almost everything that is posted on a profile from photos to family
information. Consider leaving out contact info, such as phone number
4. Posting a child's name in a caption. Don't use a child's name in photo
tags or captions. If someone else does, delete it by clicking Remove
Tag. If a child isn't on Facebook and someone includes his or her name
in a caption, ask that person to remove the name.
5. Mentioning being away from home. Three percent of Facebook users
surveyed said they had posted this information on their page. Doing so
is like putting a "no one's home" sign on the door. Be vague about the
dates of any vacations.
6. Being found by a search engine. To help prevent strangers from
accessing a profile, go to the Search section of Facebook's privacy
controls and select Only Friends for Facebook search results. Be sure
the box for Public Search isn't checked.
7. Permitting youngsters to use Facebook unsupervised. Facebook limits
its members to ages 13 and older, but children younger than that do use
it. If there's a young child or teenager in the household who uses
Facebook, an adult in the same household should become one of their
online friends and use their email as the contact for the account in
order to receive notification and monitor activity.