Note: This is part one of a multi part series on how to protect yourself on Facebook
After a long hiatus, I’ve decided to jump back into the blogosphere with something that I’ve been mulling over the past few weeks. The dangerous side of Facebook. Scared yet? Facebook offers the chance to stay connected and reconnect with old and new friends. In theory, it’s great…we all use and love it. But you know who else loves it? Criminals. Identity Thieves. Petty Thieves and worse.
So why is Facebook dangerous? Quite simply there is a lot of personal information on it which is viewable to an audience who normally wouldn’t have access. Most criminals can’t do the background work on a crime..it’s a big obstacle to overcome and protects us all. Facebook knocks down that protective wall and exposes us. Let’s examine ways to protect yourself other than deleting or wiping your profile clean.
Part 1: Your ‘Friends’ List:
Not my friends! You can’t take my friends away from me! Hold on there…are these 500 people really your friends? When is the last time you talked to any of them? When is the last time you saw some of them? Do you know if they have a criminal history?
Step 1 is to scrub that friend list of anyone who you don’t really know. I think a lot of us have accepted friend requests from someone who knows someone that we know…maybe we met this person once but we don’t know them. Keep your friends list limited to just that friends. People you know and trust.
Guidelines to scrubbing the friend list:
1) Have you ever met this person?
2) Have you met them more than once?
3) Do you really consider them a friend? Would you refer to them as a ‘friend’ in normal conversation or would you say that you simply ‘know who they are’?
4) Do they have a criminal history?
5) Do they have a history of abusing drugs?
What about High School Friends?
Be careful who you accept as a friend from High School. Just because you had English class with someone 15 years ago does not mean that you know them. 99% chance they are not the same person you remember. They may be perfectly normal and a model citizen. Or they could be strung out on drugs or have a history of violence in the past 5 years due to something occurring in their personal life. You don’t know because you don’t really know them as a friend.
What about exes? What about friends of ex’s? I think Chris Rock said it best “if you haven’t contemplated killing someone then you haven’t loved a *$%#”. Is that person really over you? Is that persons friend ok with the way you treated your ex or the way they perceive you treated your ex? See what I am getting at? Maybe the ex is completely over you but one of their friends never forgave you for cheating on their friend…that would be problematic.
Friends who post a lot
This is a hard one. We all have them. The friends who spend their day on Facebook posting about every little thing they do. These people typically have hundreds of friends and use multiple Facebook applications and they tell you what and where they eat lunch and how mad they are when it rains or it’s too hot. These friends should scare the crap out of you.
If you and that friend do something…it’s getting posted on their wall. They go to your bday party…it’s on the wall. They go to your child’s bday party..it’s on the wall. They go feed your dog because you are out of town…it’s on their wall. Their friends may be able to view info about your as well. Make sure all your privacy settings restrict access to only your friends and not friends of friends. A friend with an unscrubbed friend list is dangerous to you. Maybe they like the way you look in your pic? Maybe they like the way your car or house looks in your pic?
Your Teenaged Kids
This kind of runs together with the person who posts a lot. Teenaged kids are the worst…Think about what their friend list may look like. How many of their friends are petty thieves? Your kid’s friends should not be able to view anything about you..keep them far far away from your profile. Teenaged kids are very unstable in their relationships and easily influenced. Not a good combo. There are infinite possibilities that could occur and most of them are not pleasant.
Avoid these types of friends on your Facebook Account:
1) Remove friends that you don’t really know
2) Remove friends that are simply acquaintances you’ve met through others
3) Restrict access to your information including pics to ‘friends only’ and NOT ‘friends of friends’
4) Remove High School friends who you have not seen, talked to, or plan to talk to ever again
5) Consider removing friends who over post or ask them to not post information about your life..where you have been, where you live, etc
6) Remove your teenaged kids