With all these stories about identity theft and crime on Facebook, I thought I’d give a few pointers on keeping yourself secure.

  1. Make sure you don’t have anything set to “public”.  There’s a lot of information on there that you don’t want random people seeing.
  2. Keep the personal information to a minimum. Can you trust all your friends? Really, all 500 of them? Can you trust that their accounts will never get hacked?  No you can’t, which is why you shouldn’t have your address or your date of birth on your profile.  These can be used to gain access to accounts.  If you wouldn’t want it in the phone book, don’t put it on your Facebook. Don’t forget that some applications will steal your data; you will probably never know which ones are doing it.
  3. Beware of long-lost relatives, they probably aren’t long lost relatives.  Eventually, they’ll come up with some sob story and ask for some money.
  4. Beware of impostors, sometimes people aren’t who they say they are.  If it seems a little suspicious, put them on a limited profile until they can prove they are who they say they are.  Ask them something they would only know if you met them in person where they said they met you (such as Junior High)
  5. Don’t say that you’re away from home.  One of your idiot friends will tell one of their friends who will break in to your house and steal your stuff.  Post your vacation pictures after you’ve come back.
  6. Don’t advertise parties or else you’ll find 200 people showing up at your house and trashing it.  Also watch out for idiots who post stuff on walls about your party, don’t invite them.
  7. Use a good password, don’t use ones that are easy to guess. If you login with a Gmail or Hotmail account, don’t use the same password for both.  If someone does get your Facebook password, they’ll get also have your e-mail password.
  8. Facebook will never phone or email you asking for account details. If they do, then they aren’t really Facebook. They are just trying to hack your account. 99.99% of account hacks are caused by people giving away their account information to strangers.
  9. Beware of hacked accounts. Your friends may have given out their passwords.  If you get an urgent message from them saying that they are in jail in Mexico and need money for bail, it isn’t really them. Remember that they will have a lot of personal information in their account (and they will be able to see your account).
  10. Remember the golden rule: if it sounds fishy, it probably is.