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The virtual world can be a dangerous one. Follow our seven simple steps to ensure you stay safe on Facebook.
1. Hide yourself from the public
This isn’t as straightforward as you might think and many people are under the impression that they are already hidden. But if you don’t apply these settings in multiple categories, other people will still be able to see your information. This is especially important for children’s Facebook accounts. To protect yourself, click Account > Privacy settings > Profile information. Adjust your privacy settings for all 12 categories. Then click Back to Privacy > Contact information. Adjust your privacy settings for all 9 categories.
2. Don’t let search engines find you
To help prevent strangers from accessing your page, go to Account > Privacy settings > Search. Select ‘Only friends’ for Facebook search results. Make sure the box for public search results isn’t checked either.
3. Don’t allow Facebook to hand over your details to other companies
Unless you tell them not to, Facebook will give companies access to your profiles for research and advertising purposes. They can even use your details in the adverts themselves. To stop Facebook from handing over your details, click Account > Privacy Settings > Applications and websites. Next to ‘Instant Personalisation Pilot Program’ click ‘Edit setting’. Make sure the box is not ticked at the bottom of the screen. To make sure you don’t appear in any adverts, go to Account > Account Settings > Facebook Adverts. Select ‘no one’ on ‘Allow ads on platform pages to show my information to’ and ‘Show my social actions in Facebook ads to’.
4. Make sure nobody else is using your account
This is a new feature which was rolled out by Facebook last week. It allows you to monitor which devices are being used to access your account.
Go to Account > Account settings > Account security. Click ‘Would you like to receive notifications for logins from new devices?’ and then click ‘Yes’ below.
Log out and log back in. You will be asked to name the device you are using. Then it will send you an email. Do this with each device you use to access your Facebook account. From now on, if anyone logs in to your account from a device you don’t use, you’ll receive an email telling you. If this happens, change your password straight away and report it to Facebook via the Help Centre.
5. Don’t put your full date of birth in your profile
It’s an ideal target for identity thieves, who could use it to obtain more information about you and potentially gain access to your bank or credit card account. If you’ve already entered a birth date, go to your profile page and click on the ‘Info’ tab, then on ‘Edit Information’. Under the Basic Information section, choose to show only the month and day or no birthday at all.
6. Protect yourself from your friends
When your Facebook friends use applications they may be inadvertently sharing your details with third parties. To protect yourself, click Account > Privacy Settings > Applications and websites > What your friends can share about you. Untick all of the boxes and then save your changes.
7. Don’t advertise your home
You should make sure you never post your full address on Facebook and certainly don’t put it under your ‘Info’ section. If you’re going away on holiday, although tempting, it’s best not to advertise it on your Facebook page, or even to mention it on your friends’ pages. This is especially crucial if you or your friends’ profiles can be accessed by people not listed as friends. There have been numerous instances where people have gone away and returned to an empty home, just because they shared too much information on social media.