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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • EDITORIAL: Be careful out there in Facebook land

  • Are you putting too much out there for too many to see?
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  • Are you giving too much information away on Facebook? Many people spill life's ups and downs on this popular social media website, but they could be sharing far more than they realize with people who are up to no good.
        When someone sends you a friend request, do you automatically accept it, figuring it would be rude not to? This is a potentially dangerous practice. Do you really know this person, are you just acquaintances, or are they a friend of a friend of a friend? Maybe they don't really exist and have set up a fake profile just to glean identity information from others.
        No matter how high your security settings are set, your information is only as secure as your least secure friend. And don't we all have that one friend that continually posts weird hoaxes and "enter to win" items, believing they are going to win a million dollars and save all of their Facebook friends from some sort of computer-aided zombie apocalypse? Your "secure" information is in this person's hands. Scary.
        It is suggested by the powers that be that everyone try to be a little less friendly. Don't accept friend request from people you don't truly know. Frequently go through your list of friends and weed out anyone who might seem even the smallest bit suspicious. If you drop a "friend" and they request to add you again, it is not rude to ignore the request. You have the right to protect your information.
        Click less. Every single time to click "like" or check out a link, you are opening yourself up accidently downloading malware onto your computer. Malware can allow hackers to record everything that you type including user IDs and passwords. Malware is also able to enslave your computer making you inadvertently help spam or defraud someone else.
        It is imperative that you be vigilant with installing, updating and running anti-virus software, backing up your computer and with monitoring your credit report and bank accounts. You never know when trouble could strike. Try to stay on top of what may or may not be happening to your identifying information.
        If your Facebook account is compromised or you find yourself a victim of identity theft, experts agree the first step is to change your e-mail password. The reasoning behind this is relatively simple - you will be changing other passwords and the confirmation of these changes will be coming to your e-mail address. If someone has hacked your e-mail account in addition to your Facebook account, he or she would be able to watch all the changes you make and undo them unless you change your password.
        By the way, make sure any passwords you use to protect personal information are challenging. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. DO NOT EVER use the word "password" as your password. As ridiculous as this sounds, "password" is the most commonly used password in the United States. Your average second grader can spell password and become a would-be hacker.
    Page 2 of 2 -     Finally, when you get ready to post the latest, greatest news on Facebook, stop for a minute to consider what you will be sharing with the world. Privacy policies on the Internet are in a constant state of change. You have no way of knowing if what a site assures you will be kept private really will be. Make a personal policy to stop yourself from sharing something you wouldn't want to yell out in public or print in your local newspaper.

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