Protecting Yourself from Scams on Facebook

If you must use Facebook — and I personally advise against it every chance I get — you ought to be extremely careful about how much personal information you share with the social-networking site’s burgeoning masses of subscribers.

Depending on how much information you choose to disclose about yourself on Facebook, you could become the victim of fraud. As Facebook continues to grow, the scams will proliferate and get worse.

It is possible to use Facebook while limiting your exposure to extortion, fraud, and identity theft, but you cannot and should not rely on the site to take those precautions on your behalf.

The first step, as CNET News’ Dennis O’Reilly explains, is to edit your personal profile. You’ll want to eliminate any personal information that could be exploited for criminal purposes. You are wise to err on the side of caution, so if you’re unsure about a particular detail or revelation, delete it.

When that’s done, you’ll want to follow O’Reilly’s example and modify your Facebook account’s default privacy settings, which are intentionally lax to facilitate information sharing.

It isn’t Facebook’s fault that online criminals are gravitating to it as a venue for exploitation of the trusting and unwary.

Still, Facebook should give serious consideration to devising and implementing more stringent privacy settings for the patrons who have made it an increasingly attractive target for prospective advertisers and crooks alike.

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