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7 Things You Should Stop Doing On Facebook

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.


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R. Michelle Green

As a long-time Consumer Reports fan, I also noted that statistic with dismay. The gap is actually worse -- by their survey, only 42% of users had ever customized their privacy settings. Since FB offers so many communications paths, they may still not have limited their sharing to only friends. So that gap actually defines a lower limit: there may be even more people whose actions don't match their intentions. Thanks for helping spread the word about using Facebook safely...

brenda be

I do feel that privacy concerns are overrated. If I'm not doing Anything I'm ashamed of on facebook, why should I care who sees it? And since banks and credit cards have auto-repay policies, there's not much or far that can get done. I just don't see legions of would-be robbers out there trolling facebook to see if I'm out at the store so they can rob me, or trying to get my birthdate so that they can steal my identity. Sure, it's possible but it can happen through much more pedestrian means and the percentage who are victims (vs. the stated percentages of who are 'doing it "wrong" ') are low. I also don't get the kid things. So he thinks pedophiles are trolling facebook to get the names of kids matched up with faces because now it will be ten times easier to find these kids and kidnap them? If you want to stalk a kid all you have to do is hang out in the bushes near the garage to hear the parents call the kids out to the car by name. Should we stop calling our kids by name outside the house? Sorry, but I feel the privacy panic is unhealthy. I want to live my life more calmly.


Surprise?! A data security problem with Facebook Instant Personalization:

I guess FB can't deliver on even the few data security promises it does make.

If there is no privacy, then control becomes irrelevant. Many of us consumers aren't willing to give up control.



My cousin's Facebook account was hacked and her cousin in Israel received a phone call from someone claiming he was holding a gun on the cousin, in London, and unless the cousin in Israel wired him $500 he would shoot her. Now, anyone who has any common sense would know that was a con, but the cousin in Israel wired him the money. So . . . you can get into trouble if you're not careful with your Facebook settings.

EMR Saves Lives

My 10 year old keeps screaming about wanting facebook and I keep saying no. All her friends have it. Too bad!


Excellent content! I will be back to follow your posts. Thanks for sharing this information! Scott

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