8 simple steps to protect your Facebook profile and the information you feed into it. Learn more about the security and privacy policy within the social media site so you can control information, protect yourself from internet predators and have fun using a valuable communication tool.

Remove your birth date from your Facebook profile.
Stop identity theft by removing this simple piece of information from your Facebook profile. Remember the last time you lost your password and you called your bank, credit union or insurance? They probably asked for your name and date of birth. By displaying your full birth date you potentially giving access to your password resets from your bank and credit accounts. Go to your profile page and click on “Edit profile” (Under your Profile picture). Under the Birth date tab, change to “Show only month and Day in my Profile” or “Don’t show my birthday in my profile”. It’s amazing how much you can find out when you use a persons name and birth date!

Stop and check your Facebook privacy settings.
Stop giving access to all users to view your profile. From your privacy menu which can be found Account > Privacy Settings, limit access to people you don’t really know. As a basis you should only allow access to your friends; however on new accounts Facebook will default to “Everyone” for all privacy settings. You can restrict access to your personal information, photos, friends, religion, contact and family information. You can even create custom friend groups to limit access to information. Phone numbers and address should only be trusted with immediate family and friends who you regularly stay in contact with. Remember: Use “Customise” for custom privacy settings and if you select “Friends of friends” then the information can be viewed by all your friends along with everyone on their friends list.

Stop tagging photos of children
Stop tagging your children in photos. Don’t use your children’s name in photo tagging. If you see someone who has tagged your child’s name, then click on the “Remove tag” button underneath the photo. If your child name was manually typed for the tagging, then contact the owner to get the name removed. Protect your childrens privacy from the preditors who prowl the net by removing their names from photos. It is also a good idea to remove the date and time fields which may have printed on the photo.

Stop young children from using Facebook.
You must be at least 13 years old to use Facebook (From Facebook Privacy Policy) and own a profile. Report underage usage. If you have a young child or teenager who uses Facebook, monitor their activities by either providing your email for notifications or using third party software to control internet usage. Educating children in using the internet and how information can be spread to millions of users is an important aspect for all parents. Teach children about posting status updates regarding dates, times and even school information.

Stop updating your status with “Away from home Messages”
Stop mentioning you will be away on holidays or extended leave. Do you personally know every single person on your friends list? I’m guessing it’s “No”. By stating on your status or providing dates when you will be away from home or the office is inviting people to snoop around your premises. Search Google for robberies and holdups while users twittered and updated their status to “Away from home”. Recently law enforcement advised Facebook users to rethink what they place into their status fields for Facebook and Twitter. A tip: consider updating your friends after you return from holidays and try to keep dates and times to a minimum.

Stop Google from indexing your Facebook Profile
Stop search engines from finding and indexing your profile. Search for your name in Google and chances are your Facebook profile will display in the search results. Do you want the whole world to find you on Facebook? To stop strangers from accessing your profile along with spam friend invites remove this listing by visiting your privacy settings. To disable this feature, go to Account > Privacy Settings > Search > “Public Search results” > Remove tick in box. After disabling this function, Google will remove your listing within 1 -5 weeks. Exact time frame for search engine removal currently unknown.

Stop and check Facebook Application Settings
Stop using Facebook applications with share information to third party sites. FarmVille and Mafia Wars are not the only apps found on Facebook 🙂 There are millions of Facebook applications which can be download and used on Facebook and on your web site. Protect yourself from these applications and your friends applications by visiting Account > Privacy Settings > Application and Web Sites. From here you can control what friends share about you on Facebook. It also controls what applications can use from your profile when you install on your profile or web site. Instant Personalization Pilot Program is when web site chosen by Facebook can customise their web site with the information from your profile. Untick to remove this feature.

Stop and change your Facebook Password
Stop using weak passwords or words which can be found in a dictionary. This is the most common hack known on the internet when users use dictionary attacks on usernames and passwords. Always ensure your password is at least 8 characters and you have both number and letters combined. Always update your passwords at least every 3 months. If you want free software to help remember your passwords, fill forms and auto logon consider these free applications. KeePass and RoboForm.