Five Worst Mistakes You Can Make on Facebook

What Facebook habits make you vulnerable and how to avoid them.

While incredibly useful and funny, social networks are new to us. Many habits we establish regarding those networks are not well thought-out. Here is a list of very typical mistakes people make on Facebook. Each of these mistakes may cost you money, reputation, or relationships with people you value.


Publish your bio in full

What’s wrong with it:

While it’s tempting to have many greetings and likes on your birthday or when you become a parent, consider how many services – including banks and financial institutions – rely on your birthdate or mother’s maiden name to grant access to your account. Facebook and other social networks are loved by criminals as they enable them to gather all kinds of data on you and hack your more important accounts afterwards.

What to do:

Don’t put your birthdate online, or at the very least, don’t publish the year. Avoid casually spilling relatives, pets’ names, and other data, which is often used in social engineering attacks.

Don’t publish your birthdate at all or at least hide the year to avoid data theft.

Publish your posts, er, publically

What’s wrong with it:

Anyone can read it ― your friend, your mom, your kids, your boss, your ex, your recruiting agent, plus multiple marketing firms and someone planning online fraud. We typically consider FB posts as some modern form of storytelling for a small audience, e.g. friends at the bar or relatives in the living room. When your post is public, you should imagine something else: crying out loud at the town square, nothing less. Someone may accidentally, or intentionally, misinterpret your words and repeat them to person important to you. Or just use your words to troll you or pull a prank. Or perform an identity theft. Or anything else; the list is infinite. This is very real ― cases when imprudent social media posts were shared and cost someone a career are numerous.

What to do:

Fortify your Facebook account so that most posts will be shared to “Friends only” or “Friends of friends”. You can easily override this policy for a specific post if you really want to share something to all 1+bn Facebook inhabitants.  Pay particular attention to the audience you’re sharing with when you publish photos.

Select insecure password

What’s wrong with it:

You probably have many private galleries and messages on Facebook and you definitely don’t want others to see them. Even more importantly, most people use Facebook to login to other sites and online services. If someone hacks to your FB account, all these services are compromised as well.

What to do:

Select strong, secure password to your FB account. Even better, enable two-factor authentication to protect yourself and your data. And don’t use your Facebook password with any other service, make it unique.

Share your location

What’s wrong with it:

It helps people to track your whereabouts and figure out where you live and work. This may be especially dangerous for kids and teenagers. In addition, even when you do something innocent like checking into a restaurant or resort, it clearly indicates that you’re not at home, which may be very valuable for robbers.

What to do:

Disable geo-tagging (embedding location) in photos you publish. Don’t use Facebook check-ins at all or set up a very small, tightly controlled list of people able to see your check-ins. Stranger-danger, remember?


Friend non-friends

What’s wrong with it:

You’ve probably gone through this multiple times. Someone wants to add you as a friend, but you barely know this person. Or maybe you don’t know him/her at all, but you have ten friends in common. You press “Accept” just to be polite. This is very, very wrong. First of all, by being your “friend” this unknown person gets access to your information published in “friend only” mode, and may use it for who-knows-what purpose. Moreover, you compromise your friends’ security as well since many people use “friends of friends” publishing mode. Their status updates, check-ins, and photos become accessible to this person as well. Also, this stranger may send messages (maybe with spam and malicious links) and friend even more people as your friendship increases this persons’ authority.

What to do:

Friend only people you know personally and people you know well.  You may want to run a special security analysis of your personal network on Facebook. This will highlight all kinds of strange behavior between people you friended. It’s called Friend or Foe for a reason.



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