Tips to Stay Safe on Facebook

The social media evolution has occurred only in the last few years, and has allowed us to interact, in real time, on an unprecedented level, with anyone else with a social media account. No matter where they live on the planet.

This in turn has allowed Facebook to be utilised by an extremely high number of scammers and spammers who exploit Facebookís ability to connect millions on one website. This means that Facebook is not only a useful tool for us, but also a potentially dangerous one as well, with a constant threat of new and evolving threats looking to fool you.

So here is our rundown of helpful tips on staying safe on Facebook.

1. Privacy Settings

Keeping your Facebook account private from strangers is vitally important. A lack of privacy can trip you up in many, many ways. Not only on a criminal level but on a social one too (Do you want your boss to see photos of you in the pub when you pulled a sickie that very same day? Probably not.)

Many types of scammers, such as identity thieves, can use your personal information against you.

It is important that only trusted contacts have access to the information you choose to upload to Facebook. It is also important that you choose carefully what information you opt to upload to Facebook in the first place.

We have an entire page about Facebook privacy settings here dedicated to setting up your privacy settings so people you are not friends with cannot see the information you upload, like your biographical information, status updates and photos.

This section of the site also discusses using recommended features such as Login Approvals, that prevent people from accessing your Facebook account from an unrecognised device, as well as the ability to who can tag themselves in content you upload and control over what content you get tagged in.

2. Be Wary of External Links

Every time you see a link to an external site on Facebook, donít automatically assume it is safe to visit. Even if a friend posted the link. Of course most of the links to external sites posted on Facebook are perfectly safe, but before you click, always briefly ask yourself some quick questions which may help you avoid landing on suspect sites.

Does the link look or offer something suspicious? Does it seem too good to be true? If the link claims you can get a free iPad or BMW, then the chances are highly stacked that something nefarious will happen once you click the link.

Also ask if the link appears out of character for the person who posted it. Often links will be automatically posted from compromised accounts, and were posted without the knowledge of the account owner.

3. Run regular antivirus scans

The last thing you want is malware to steal your login credentials, so to ensure your computer is malware free, run regular antivirus scans (every two weeks is what we recommend) to ensure your computer is always malware free.

If you're looking for reputable antivirus for 2014, then click here for our recommendations on Internet security software.

4. Check the web address before entering your password

One of the most common scams facing Facebook users is phishing scams. These are scams that lead users to spoof websites that look like the Facebook login page but are actually owned by a scammer.

Information, like your username and password, that is entered into these sites are stolen by the scammer, potentially giving them access to your Facebook account. Our full article on Facebook phishing scams can be read here.

5. Donít add strangers

It may seem like common sense, but Facebook is for socialising with friends, not strangers. It is important to remember that adding strangers on Facebook is dangerous. Strangers can compile your personal information, putting you at risk of identity fraud. They can also try and lure you towards malicious websites.

6. Monitor messages from your account

If you fall for a scam, there is a high chance that it will involve your account sending out spam messages to your friends. If this happens, you need to find out why it has happened in order to stop it, so your friends donít fall for the same scam. Click this link for the different reasons your account is sending out spam.

7. Only install trusted Facebook Apps

Facebook Apps have access to your personal information and may be able to post on your behalf. This means rogue Facebook Apps can potentially be extremely troublesome and can cause serious problems. If you do not trust the developer of the application, do not install it until you are certain that it is safe.

8. Use Friend Lists

If you add Facebook contacts that you may not know personally (e.g. if you add people because of Facebook games) then you will want to become accustomed to Facebook Friend Lists that allow you to customise what you share with whom. Facebook has a handful of lists already made for you, like Close Friends and Restricted.

Using these lists allow you to choose what contacts get what. For example, friends in your Restricted list donít get your Facebook updates or photos, unless you make them public. Learn how to use lists by reading the Facebook Help Center article here.

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