To avoid identity theft and fraud, Consumer Reports listed the seven habits of many Facebook members that expose themselves, their personal information, and the personal information of family members (e.g., children):
1. Using weak passwords: in November 2007 I wrote about the need for consumers to use strong passwords. If your password is the same as an item in your Facebook profile, then you are making it easy for identity criminals and hackers. Use something different and swap out several letters with numbers, special characters, and so forth.
2. Displaying your full birth date: I first wrote about this risk in March 2009. Your birth date is a key personal data item criminals use to distinguish you from other people with the same name. Regardless, many of my Facebook friends seem more interested in getting birthday wishes than effective data security and continue to display their full birth date.
3. Ignoring Facebook's privacy controls: there are several pages with privacy settings within your Facebook profile. You should spend the time and visit all of these pages.
4. Displaying a child's name under a photo: this is just irresponsible by Facebook members who haven't set their privacy controls to limit who can access their personal information. It's like walking down the street and telling strangers your children's name and ages.
5. Posting while you are away from home: location-based services are the new "in" thing and criminals love this. It tells them when your home is vacant and ripe for a break-in.
6. Setting your profile to be found by search engines: if you have been a Facebook member for a while, then you are already connected to most or all of your friends. So this setting is an unnecessary risk.
7. Allowing children to use Facebook unsupervised: this should be obvious given items number 1 through 6, since many children and teens aren't aware of the risks or consider themselves immune. They need to be taught good data security habits. 9% of social media users experienced some form of abuse last year: computer viruses, scams, identity theft, and/or harassment.
Also, I found this survey result troubling: 73% of adult Facebook users think that they are communicating only with friends, but only 42% have actually set their Facebook profile privacy controls accordingly. So, about 30% are placing their personal information, their family's personal information, and the personal information of their friends at risk.