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Facebook Security…Should Parents Worry?

I really enjoy my Facebook time and I know it’s an application for young people…but I think the talented 23 year old that created Facebook, did it just for me!  It really helps preserve sanity for a stay home mom to feel connected to the outside world when the walls start closing in. 😀

It’s been so cool to hook up with people I went to Elementary and High School with.  I went to great schools, met awesome people, but for whatever reason, didn’t stay in touch with many school mates.  Re-connecting with so many on Facebook has been lovely as I have nothing but great memories of those days.  Extra special with Francesco starting Kindergarten this year, as I longed for him to have the same Elementary school experience that I had. It’s been neat to walk down memory lane and remember special times.

In my life before children I had a technical background with some experience in email and Internet security.  In the back of my mind I always have a nagging concern with sticking pictures of my children on Facebook and having conversations about daily activities with my family either via the wall or status updates.  So for my own peace of mind I started testing with a friend, just to see how secure my profile was.  As it turned out, my security wasn’t locked down enough to ease my mind.  Not to sound paranoid, but I’m often shocked at the fact I have access to pictures of other people’s photos and I’m not their friend!  That means there are parents posting pictures of their children on Facebook and their security is wide open.  If this is the case, anyone with access can save a picture from your Facebook album to their hard drive.  I’m not trying to scare anyone, as I think Facebook security is ruled firstly by common sense and basic precautions, but there are some settings that need to be adjusted after first creating your account.  Isn’t it interesting that these new-age parenting questions didn’t even exist a few years ago?  Here a few tips to get you started…I will continue to post Facebook security tips in future articles, but here are the basics.

1 Remove your birthday.
In the age of identity theft, it’s just not necessary to advertise your birth date.  When you first create your Facebook account, you need to submit your birth date, but there is an option to change it from being viewed on your profile.  To remove go into: Profile, Edit (option next to Profile), under your birthday, select the drop down arrow to display “Don’t show my birthday in my profile.” Select the “Save Changes” button. 

While in your profile, under the Contact field, do I need to say more about listing your phone number, home address, etc.?  Probably best to only leave your email address and/or cell number.

2. Profile settings.  To change these controls, you need to access your Profile setting again, but through the ‘Privacy’ option, rather than following directions from point 1.  If you access your Profile though this menu option, you get a new set of important security options.  To keep things simple, I would recommend changing every option under this category to ‘Only My Friends’.  Why?  By default, Facebook allows all of your networks and friends to view your profile.  If you view the size of many networks, hundreds of thousands of people could have access to your personal information.
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