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ThreeSixty: Keeping your information safe online

Frank Bi suggests ways to limit who can access your private information on Facebook or MySpace.FROM THREESIXTY JOURNALISM


As more people join online social networking sites, the challenge of maintaining some privacy for information posted to Facebook, MySpace and other sites has increased dramatically.

More people are coming to realize that the information they post about themselves and others is by no means private. Earlier this year, students at Eden Prairie and Woodbury High Schools learned this when online photos of students drinking were given to the school’s administration.

Although information posted online is not guaranteed to be safe, there are ways to limit who can access your private information on Facebook or MySpace. But users of these sites must realize that they post personal information at their own risk.

Here are some precautionary steps to protect your Facebook profile:

• Control who can view your page. Change your privacy setting so that users who are not friends with you cannot view your page. There is also a setting where you can allow only limited access to friends.

• When accepting a friend request, make sure you know and trust the person you are accepting. Once accepted, he or she can view your page, download pictures, and access your information unless you only allow them to view your limited profile.

• Disable the search function so people cannot search for your account. You have the option of who can or cannot search for your account. If you disable searching altogether, the only people who know your account exists are the other users in your network.

• Use Facebook’s very detailed privacy settings. The settings allow specifically what can be seen by which people, including individuals and groups.

• Do not upload any pictures or information that can incriminate you or others. Many falsely assume that once their profiles are private, photos are safe. Facebook friends can access these photos and duplicate them. Once they are duplicated, the photos are no longer private.

• Remember that technology can fail. Recently a security hole was discovered on Facebook, and for a short time, anyone could have access to any user’s complete profile. The victims of this glitch included Paris Hilton and the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, whose photos appeared unprotected on the site.

Bottom Line: The Internet is not private. Anything uploaded to the Internet can be accessed and reproduced, which can lead to an infinite amount of copies. Enter information at your own risk!