Almost anyone who frequents the web for any period of time either uses Facebook or, unless they have really been hiding under a virtual rock, is familiar with the popular social networking website. With more than one billion members, Facebook has quickly risen to become one of the most visited sites on the web.

While Facebook may seem to be an isolated community because people tend to cluster in groups or have common friends, much of what is said and done on the website has a pretty good potential to be shared whether by the site itself or through other members.

Facebook
Credit: Tumisu via Pixabay CC0 Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/facebook-group-comm-community-1563273/

The web is a pretty public place, but unfortunately many people seem to lose sight of the fact that social networks aren't closed networks even when privacy tools are used. Often social media platforms offer tend to give off an illusion of security, but even when using tools it is important to be vigilant.

Fortunately, Facebook does offer some levels of customization, so when sharing information, be sure you understand potential consequences and make informed decisions. That being said, there are some other things you should consider not posting or doing on Facebook to keep yourself and your personal information safe:

Not Use Privacy Tools and Settings

Facebook offers privacy tools. While there is some controversy over the way the controls may default back to sharing information during times Facebook makes an update, it is better to familiarize and keep up to date on the privacy tools and use them. These settings do offer a level of protection if you want to engage on social networking sites. Every layer helps. In the past, many have complained the settings are too complicated, but it's worth the effort to take the time to understand how they work.

Use a Weak Password

This is a general rule of thumb that should always be observed with any kind of online account. Weak passwords can quickly lead to compromised accounts. When setting up a Facebook account, use a strong password.

If you have already established a password that is on the weak side, take a few minutes to update it. All you need to do is log into your Facebook account and then go into your account settings and you'll find an option to change your password.

Password
Credit: geralt via Pixabay CC0 Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/password-keyword-codeword-solution-397652/

Share Your Birthday

Sure it is fun to have all those wonderful birthday wishes every year. However, since Facebook's model has been built upon the philosophy of people sharing their personal information, including a real name, (optional) photo, and a birthday just gives identity thieves an easier way to swipe your information.

A lot of information is shared on Facebook and through following posts and by the gathering of information on profiles and feeds, thieves can have a field day. Don't give them the keys to your identity. While some recommend just leaving the day and month, this might still be a bad idea. People tend to link to high school or college groups and, if graduation years are included, it won't take but a minute or two to figure out what year someone was born in.

Ignore Repercussions of Status Updates

Did you ever think that things posted on Facebook statuses could come back to haunt or hurt you? Unfortunately, what is posted on status updates can do just that.

Many people are learning stiff lessons when bosses, potential employers or colleagues see unprofessional language or comments posted in updates. For others, they've learned the hard way that posting about vacations, full day outings or other plans can lead to their homes being burglarized. (Just how well do you know your best friend from third grade anyway?)

Anytime a person posts an update on Facebook, it is important to consider the potential repercussions. For instance, if you want to share information about a dream vacation, don't do it from your mobile while actually on the trip, best to wait and share details about the trip when your return. Play it smart, those photos and updates can wait.

Building sandcastles
Credit: Leigh Goessl

Be Careless with Photographs

Many people find it fun to post old high school photos and/or mementos from big parties over the weekend. While sharing these kind of photos are give a good laugh for a few moments, keep in mind these photos may sit on Facebook for all eternity, especially if they are copy/pasted and passed around through other online channels.

Not Educating or Monitoring Kids

Kids tend to post how they feel, what they are doing or what their family is doing. Consider how offhand comments such as, "Man, I'm so bored today, my parents are both working this weekend and I'm home alone with nothing to do" or "Yay! I have lots of time to play online since my folks don't get home until 7 p.m. on Thursdays.

As the article from Consumer Reports  recommends:

"Facebook limits its members to ages 13 and over, but children younger than that do use it. If you have a young child or teenager on Facebook, the best way to provide oversight is to become one of their online friends. Use your email address as the contact for their account so that you receive their notifications and monitor their activities". [1]

There are many things worth considering not doing on Facebook and the above is just a short list, but can be a springboard to other thoughts of other potentially harmful or privacy related problems that can arise.

If you're a Facebook member, be sure and understand the company’s privacy policies, keep informed of updates to make sure information you don't want shared isn't being streamed to third parties and avoid the above practices.

Your identity and privacy may depend upon it.

This is not to say you shouldn't engage on Facebook or other social networks. For a large number of people, hanging out on these sites are both fun and informative. What's important is to keep informed and get educated on the drawbacks and you'll have a better social networking experience.