3 Ways To Be Safe on Facebook
Facebook has billions of users, which, while great for networking, makes the site a big target for hackers. To keep your personal data safe, start by adopting these online habits.
Facebook is one of the most visited sites on the Internet. Over 1.39 billion people log onto the social media platform monthly to interact with friends, scroll through their feeds and browse photos. If Facebook were a country, it would be the most populous nation on Earth.
Yet, the site’s ubiquity comes with a price. Facebook profits off of ads using information gathered by users, and stories about hackers getting access to information shared by users is an all-too common story. If used without a healthy dose of caution and skepticism, Facebook can be a dangerous place. Fortunately, with a handful of good habits and practices, you can keep your privacy while still enjoying this social platform:
1. Keep Login Information To Yourself
This is a universal rule when it comes to accounts – don’t disclose which addresses or passwords you use for your social media profiles. While it is important to make your passwords difficult to guess, it’s just as important to exercise vigilance when you’re not using your regular trusted devices to login. Whether you’re using a company computer or your girlfriend’s laptop, you lose a little more control over your data every time you login on a device that isn’t yours. While there’s nothing wrong with using your significant other’s smartphone to update your profile picture, just be careful with who you trust with that information.
2. Be Careful With Friend Requests
In real life, there’s probably only a few dozen people we’d consider friends or acquaintances. That’s not the case on Facebook – you could have thousands of “friends” that you only know tangentially, whether they’re old classmates or relatives or simply people you met while on vacation. While this is great for keeping tabs on people outside your immediate social circle, it also means you may accept requests from less than trustworthy people.
Some users have created fake Facebook profiles for many nefarious purposes, such as stalking, threatening and harassing people. Honestly, there are many ways someone could abuse the info you share on Facebook, so it’s best to only accept requests from people you personally know. Before you do, be sure their photos match their name, that they have at least some mutual friends, and know something personal about them (such as a sibling’s name).
3. Use Caution When Following Links
Whenever you’re on Facebook, your URL should be “facebook.com”. If you follow a link that reads “www.facebook33.tk” or “www.facebook1.php”, that’s usually a giveaway that the page you’re on is phishing your information. While an anti-virus program or firewall could help prevent your devices from being bugged, many of these phishing sites can sidestep these measures. As such, always make sure your URL is encrypted by having a “http://” before your Facebook address, and avoid clicking on suspicious links.
The same logic goes for any outside links your friends may share in a post – if it looks suspicious and the URL lacks at “http://”, has out-of-place characters in the address or both, it’s best to pass on whatever cat video from Buzzfeed your friend is sharing at work.
Remember, anything you post to Facebook, even if you delete it, remains on the Internet forever. These tips are designed to keep your reputation safe as much as they are intended to keep your data safe. If your Facebook page is in need of a cleanup, be sure you remove anything lewd or inappropriate and update your page regularly with positive content. Just like a tree with cuts in its trunk, bad content never goes away – but it can be made a smaller part of your digital self.