Facebook is seriously one of the fastest growing social networking sites with up to 250,000 new users being added each day. Sharing information comes with some risks which we will discuss in this post.
With the high number of people using a social network, such as Facebook, greater is the chance of some associated risk. As a user of Facebook, it is very important to understand some safe conduct using the world’s most popular social network. Facebook makes it so easy to connect with other people, so we will outline some of real dangers to be aware of and some guidelines.
Basic Rules of conduct to stay safe on Facebook
Remember and practice these five simple rules about staying safe online:
- Never share your password
- Think before you post
- Adjust your privacy settings and review them often
- Only accept friend requests from people you know personally
- Report things that look suspicious
More Internet Safety Rules
Type of Info
Personal contact information
– Addresses and phone numbers could help potential burglars or stalkers locate you much more easily.
– Identity theft is made simpler by every piece of information the thief can obtain.
– Do not post pictures of checks or credit cards.
– Do not post account numbers, or even the name of your bank or credit card companies.
– Do not make comments about your finances, even in general.
Password or password hints
– Do not post your password to Facebook or to any other accounts.
– Do not post information that could give crooks information about your password hints. Some common ones include your mother’s maiden name, your first pet’s name, or the name of the street you grew up on.
When you will be or are away from home
– Do not post comments about going out of town for the night or week. It will give others an idea of when your house will be empty.
– Do not post photos while on vacation, as again, potential burglars will be able to tell they have time to pay your home an unwanted visit.
– Consider avoiding “checking in” to places, as this is also a record of when you aren’t home.
Anything you don’t want others to share
– If you don’t want everyone to know about something, do not post it. Others can share your status or photos, or save them and send to whomever they choose.
– Complaints about work or other people are likely to get back to your employer or the other person, and that can hurt your job or your social life.
– If you have any doubts about whether a comment or photo is appropriate for public viewing, it is best to not post it.
Here are several resources available to you regarding internet safety:
- Facebook’s Bullying Prevention Hub provides resources and tips that help teens, parents and educators deal with bullying behavior and its consequences
- A Thin Line: MTV’s A Thin Line campaign empowers kids to identify, respond to and stop the spread of digital abuse in their own lives and among their peers. The campaign is built on the understanding that there’s a “thin line” between what may begin as a harmless joke and something that could end up having a serious impact.
- Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) works to track and bring offenders to account either directly or in partnership with local and international forces.
- Childnet International works to track and bring offenders to account either directly or in partnership with local and international forces.
- Commonsense.org provides trustworthy information, education and an independent voice helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology.
- ConnectSafely.org is an online forum designed to give teens and parents a voice in the public discussion about youth online. It also offers social-media safety tips for teens and parents, the latest youth-tech news and many other resources.
- Cyberbullying Research Center provides up-to-date information about the nature, extent, causes and consequences of cyberbullying among adolescents and serves as a clearinghouse of information about the ways adolescents use and misuse technology.
- FOSI.org works to make the online world safer for kids and families by identifying and promoting best practices, tools and methods that respect free expression in the field of online safety.
Someone I met in a chat room wants to be my friend on Facebook?
Facebook is a place to connect with friends and family you know and can build connections based on trust. When you accept a friend request from someone not in your safe group, they might see personal information you’ve shared on Facebook (example: the list of your Facebook friends or contact info, depending on your privacy settings).
You can adjust your settings, but the best way to stay safe is to only accept friend requests from people you know well (personally) outside of Facebook. These would normally be people you know from family, church or perhaps work.
Some Real Dangers of Facebook
The more people that use a social network, the higher chance there is that some people will present a threat situation. Here are some other valid safety pointers to be aware of:
- Grooming: Unless they take proper precautions, your child might be at risk of being contacted by sexual predators. Often these predators pose as other children in order to befriend kids, then build up a trusting relationship. Once this is established, the predator might convince them to send explicit photos of themselves, or to meet up in person where they can abuse them.
- Oversharing: Unless they’re taught the dangers, children could play into predators’ hands by over-sharing photos of themselves. There’s also the danger of the child being exposed to explicit content.
- Cyberbullying: But the danger isn’t only from strangers. Your child is at risk of being cyberbullied by people in their peer group, and being subjected to peer pressure to do or say things they otherwise wouldn’t. Internet Matters has a wealth of information about cyberbullying.
These may be more traditional ‘playground’ dangers, but because of the exposure of the web, and the fact photos and updates can be stored forever, they could have far worse repercussions for children.
Internet Matters, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping children stay safe online, has advice for parents whose children use social media.
Staying safe on Facebook
Facebook includes built-in tools to help you protect your child’s privacy. Make the time to consider these settings. Note: Please also consider these settings for older people!
Who can see the posts?
For children, between 13 (the minimum age for using Facebook) and 18, the safer (default) setting will be to share posts only with friends. However, these friends could share your child’s posts with their friends, so private and personal information can quickly spread.
Facebook has a Privacy Checkup option
The Facebook Privacy Checkup tool is a very useful tool which a) allows users to review who sees their posts, b) settings for apps they have logged into with Facebook and c) who can see info from their profile like phone number and email address.
Using the Privacy Checkup Tool:
Click on the padlock icon at the top of your Facebook Profile page.
Select Privacy Checkup.
Click the padlock icon in the top right of the screen, then select Privacy Check-up dinosaur.
Use the drop-down menu to adjust who sees what your children post. I would advise selecting ‘Friends’ (for the young and the old).
Watch this Tutorial on Facebook Privacy Settings
Facebook: Control friend requests
You can also stop them receiving friend requests from strangers.
Click the padlock icon, and select ‘Who can contact me?’
Change who can send them friend requests from ‘Everyone’ to ‘Friends of Friends’.
Do remind children to never accept friend requests from strangers.
If a friend tags your children in a post, that post will be added to your child’s Timeline and shared with your child’s friends.
The Facebook Timeline Review section lets your children review a post every time they are tagged and, if they wish, to not add it to their Timeline (though it will be added to the Timeline of whoever tagged your child).
Click the drop-down arrow at the top right and select Settings, then Timeline and Tagging from the left menu.
Look for ‘Review tags people add to your own posts before the tags appear on Facebook’ and select ‘Enabled’.
Turning off Facebook’s location tagging will also help keep your children safe, as then it will not publish their location along with any post made. To turn this off on your child’s phone, you will need to go into the phone’s settings.
Facebook Create friend lists
Friend lists allow you to share different information with different groups of people – for example, you could have one for “School Friends”, and one for “Family”.
Hover over Friends on the left-hand side and select ‘More’ when it appears.
Click Create New List, give the list a name and add the names of friends you wish to include.
Click Create, and then you are done.
You can add or remove friends by simply editing the ‘Manage List’ section.
To use Facebook to post only to the recipients of the list, select the drop-down menu and scroll down to find the list.
Limit who can see old Facebook posts
If you want to change who you shared an article with after you post it, return to the audience selector on the post you wish to change and pick a new audience. You can also adjust the audience of several posts at once. Within your Facebook account settings, you will find a tool that helps you change the audience of posts you have shared with Public or Friends of Friends to Friends Only.
- Go to settings > Privacy
- Select Privacy from the left menu
- Under the Who can see my stuff? section, click Limit the audience for posts I’ve shared with friends of friends or Public?
- Click Limit Old Posts
Facebook Report bullying
If children are being bullied through Facebook, it is best to report it through the Social Reporting feature. This is found using the drop-down arrow in the corner of any post under Report Post.
You can also block the bully so they cannot make contact again. Click the three dot icon on the bully’s Timeline and then select the Block option.
Facebook App privacy
It is highly recommended that you adjust the privacy settings for any apps and games used through Facebook.
Click the drop-down arrow at the top right and select Settings, then Apps in the main Facebook menu.
Click an app to change its privacy settings, or tap the cross to remove anything not being used.
Facebook Deactivate and delete the account
If all else fails, you can deactivate the account.
Click the drop-down menu, select Settings – Security and Deactivate your account. This will suspend all Facebook activity for that account.
To permanently delete the Facebook account, go to the drop-down menu ‘Help’, and type “How do I permanently delete my account?” Then follow the link to submit your request.
This will deactivate the account for a period of 14 days; if the Facebook account is not used within that grace period, it will be deleted forever.
Parents and Facebook
It is important to discuss with your children the dangers of Facebook. Not only is it vital that they are made aware of the risks to themselves, they should make sure they do not bully, mistreat or react to peer pressure of anyone else using the service.
Encourage children to think before posting, and stress that they should never send explicit photos of themselves to anyone, including friends. Most importantly, make sure they let you know if they see anything untoward or threatening on Facebook, and help to create an environment in which they feel comfortable approaching you about potentially sensitive or embarrassing subject matter.
Watch this Youtube Guide on Computer Safety
Facebook Privacy & Safety in Australia
In October 2017, WESNET collaborated with Facebook Australia to produce an Australian Privacy & Safety on Facebook booklet. The following guides have been developed as resources to understand and navigate the various settings and features available to increase privacy and security while on Facebook.
This guide also includes information about what to do about Non Consensual Intimate Images (NCII) that are shared on Facebook. We refer to NCII in Australia as Image Based Abuse. The media often refer to this as “Revenge Porn”.
You can download the booklet here.
Safety Net Australia is the author of written handouts, curricula, and multimedia materials. These materials are posted on WESNET’s various websites, including wesnet.org.au, techsafety.org.au, phones.wesnet.org.au and distributed to training attendees and frontline workers and local agencies. These materials will be noted ©WESNET, where appropriate.