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Facebook is the fastest growing social networking site in the world today with up to 250,000 new users being added every day. But sharing information has lots of risks including your name which can be accessed by others and your profile can be viewed. Anyone can get valuable information and private photos from your profile -- ultimately getting you in big trouble. You can keep your misfortunes down to a minimum by following these tips.

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- Password Tips -

Avoid simple names or words you can find in a dictionary, even with numbers tacked on the end. Instead, mix upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. A password should have at least eight characters. The longer and more complicated the password, the safer you are from getting your account hacked. One good technique is to insert numbers or symbols in the middle of a word, such as this variant on the word "houses": hO27usEs!

Avoid putting your phone number, mailing address, children's or pet's names in your profile. People often use pet's names, numbers, as passwords so it is not recommended to publish them on-line. And if you are one of these people, change your password NOW!

Make sure to change your password every so often. Always remember to log out after you're finished with Facebook, especially on a shared computer.

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- Profile Tips -

Don’t use your full birth date in your profile. It's an ideal target for identity thieves, who could use it to obtain more information about you and potentially gain access to your bank or credit card account. If you've already entered a birth date, go to your profile page and click on the Info tab, then on Edit Information. Under the Basic Information section, choose to show only the month and day or no birthday at all. More information on how to change your established privacy settings below.

Avoid filling in all of your personal information. Even though you might think only your closest friends will have access to this information, there could be a time when you add a friend you don't really know, or someone else gains access to a friend's Facebook account and looks you up. Common sense says that all your personal information should already be known by your friends anyway.

Make sure to set your profile to "private." Make sure that only the people you want to see your profile sees it.

Don't confuse Facebook with an on-line dating site. The purpose of Facebook is to connect you with people you know. Making you profile public means you're sharing your information with everyone, even though you don't know them, a risk that you wouldn't want to take.

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- Privacy and Security Tips -

Set the security settings on your profile to "Only my friends." By doing this, you will be able to have control who has access to your information and pictures. For almost everything in your Facebook profile, you can limit access to only your friends, friends of friends, or yourself. Restrict access to photos, birth date, religious views, and family information, among other things. You can give only certain people or groups access to items such as photos, or block particular people from seeing them.

Always monitor pictures that other people put of you and tag you on. You can see the tagged pictures of you by going to your profile and under your profile picture it should say "Photos of You" and the number of tagged pictures. Click on that, and look through the pictures. You should be able to untag any unappealing photos of you, but people still have the ability to see it. Don't hesitate for a second to "untag" yourself from pictures that you do not approve of. Simply click "remove tag" next to the name in the list of people in the picture. Also if you think that the particular picture could put you in a compromising situation, consult whoever put it up and ask him or her to remove it immediately. If they are your so called pals they should comply with your request.

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- Posting Tips -

Basically don't post anything you do not want the world to see. There are a lot of issues with unflattering pictures on Facebook getting people into a lot of trouble. Do not post pictures of yourself under the influence of any type of substance. This refers to pictures such as dancing-on-the-bar pictures or candid shots of the last time you got drunk with your pals at happy hour. Remember that anyone can just print out the picture and show it to your parents, principal, or employer.

If you are absent from work or school for other reasons than being ill, don’t post about where you are going or what you did last night. This should be obvious, but the rule is broken everyday.

Don’t post your child's name in a caption or tag. If someone else does, delete it by clicking on Remove Tag. If your child isn't on Facebook and someone includes his or her name in a caption, ask that person to remove the name.

Do not mention that you'll be away from home. That's like putting a "no one's home" sign on your door. Wait until you get home to tell everyone how awesome your vacation was and be vague about the date of any upcoming trip.

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- “Friending” Tips -

Be careful who you friend. Don't friend anyone out of your state/country unless you know them pretty well. Only friend people you know. You can add mutual friends that you don't know if you want to, though not recommended. Only friend people that you at least know their favorite color, siblings’ name, pets’ name, or something like that. Make sure they are the correct person by looking through their pictures. If they are not familiar, then remove them as a friend by getting to your friend list. Block anyone that seems to threaten or harass you.

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- Parental Control Tips -

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 e-mail address as the contact for their account so that you receive their notifications and monitor their activities. For example, a child who posts the comment "Mom will be home soon, I need to do the dishes" every day at the same time is revealing too much about the parents' regular comings and goings.

Keep an eye on what your teens are posting on Facebook and how often they're posting it. If you see that they're changing their status every half hour and during school hours, something's wrong.

Remember that your teen can log into Facebook from his or her X-Box, cellphone or from most mobile gaming devices. According to Facebook, more than 65 million active users of the Web site sign on to the social networking site through their mobile devices. That means your teen doesn't have to be sitting in front of his or her laptop or desktop computer to go online.

Trust your gut. If something seems wrong, examine all aspects of your children's life, including their computer and social networking use.

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- Facebook Profile Privacy Control Steps -


Let's start with privacy. Click on "profile" at the top corner of the page. Then click on "privacy" at the top right of the profile.

Step 2

To change the privacy settings on your profile, click on "profile."

Step 3

To change your privacy settings on contact information, click on "contact information." You can choose if you want your friends to view your IM screen name, mobile phone number, land line phone number, your address, websites, etc.

Step 4

Profile features. In this section, you can choose who can view your profile features.

Step 5

Search. You can determine who can find you if your friends were to do a friend search.

Step 6

News feed and mini-feed privacy. You can adjust what people can and cannot see in your feeds.

Step 7

Poke message and friend request. When you contact someone through poke message or friend request, part of your profile is temporary revealed. You can control what people can view in your profile by selecting and de-selecting the boxes.

Step 8

Notes. You can control who can see your notes.

Step 9

Facebook platform. You can determine what people can and cannot see when your friends are using certain sites and applications.

Step 10

Blocking people. If they is someone you want to block from viewing your profile, type that person's name in the search box and then block them.

Step 11

Limited profile. Type in the person's name in the search box and then limit them from viewing your profile. If you click on "edit settings", you can choose what you want them to see. So that's it, you are done. Be sure to save all your settings after each section.

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Help sometimes comes at a price or with a hidden agenda, but our helpful guides have neither. We hope that the information in our Leewood Times Guides give you starting points and focus. Our goal is to assist you in making informed decisions.

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