How to protect your personal information on Facebook

The most important practice is to never share the password used to enter the site with anyone, including best friends and spouses. Users of Facebook or any other social networking site should never post anything they would not want a future employer to see. Photos, videos and comments posted on the web are often there forever, said Symantec.

Other information that should never be posted on a social networking site includes phone numbers, e-mail addresses, dates of birth, or plans to be out of town.

Social network users should ignore enticing links supposedly sent from friends. It is highly likely that such links come from hackers who have accessed a friend's account, Symantec said.

Symantec recommends the use of web scanning software to ensure links posted to a Facebook wall are safe and do not link to phishing sites built by hackers to steal personal information.

Facebook users should limit their "circle of trust" to family and friends and ignore requests from people they do not know, because they could be cyber criminals, Symantec said.

Finally, people need to stay informed of Facebook's privacy settings, which have changed often in the past five years.

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive at Facebook, recently acknowledged the growing complexity of the site's privacy controls and announced plans to roll out simplified controls.

The new tools will offer users one menu with three settings that determine who can see shared content. Users can choose between friends, friends of friends and everyone.

The single menu will replace several web pages that Facebook users need to visit to set their privacy levels for profile information, contact information, search, applications and websites, as well as set up block lists.

Privacy groups have stepped up criticism of Facebook in recent months, complaining that default settings are aimed at encouraging the social network's 350 million users to share personal information widely.

This article was originally published by Computer Weekly

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