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Facebook Do's and Don'ts

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Here's all you need to know, courtesy of momlogic contributor and Internet Safety Specialist Lori Getz.

woman using the computer

There's no doubt that manners are important. But who knew that there would be a whole new set of etiquette for online interactions? Well, there are. In part two of our Cyber Safety series, find out the do's and don'ts of Facebook.

Do: Check your privacy settings!
Within Facebook, there are 3 "Settings" tabs: Account, Privacy, and Applications. These settings allow you to control everything from how your page looks to who can see what you post. Within the Privacy setting alone, there are 4 sub-categories, each with several options. It is important that you read through all of them and make appropriate decisions about who can see what!

Do not: Use friending to alienate or become "famo."

A friend request is a precious thing. Do you remember walking up to a new friend on the kindergarten playground and asking him or her to be your friend? Well, welcome to the 21st century version. You don't want to use this power to alienate others, but at the same time, you only want to let people in that you know in the physical world. "Famo" refers to becoming Internet Famous. Kids love to "collect friends," whether they know them or not. The more friends you have, the more famo you are. People you meet online that you don't know face-to-face are strangers. It's just not safe to let them into your inner circle!

Do not: Use the Honesty Box to slander or defame others.
The honesty box in Facebook is an application on your profile page where people can drop anonymous comments. When teens use this feature, it is usually to harass one another. That's just plain old cyber-bullying!

Do: Control who sees your News Feeds.

On the top menu bar of Facebook, you have 4 main options: Home, Profile, Friends, and Inbox. On the Home page, you see the News Feeds. These are status updates of what your friends are doing and thinking (much like Twitter). Make sure you know who can see these updates -- you will find this control in the Privacy setting. You wouldn't want to accidentally tell the world you are leaving town for the weekend and that your house will be empty.

Do not: Fall for Phishing scams.

Phishing is the act of attempting to trick users into divulging sensitive and personal information by directing them to a fake website that collects things like usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, etc. Facebook has encountered several phishing scams where you will receive a link in your inbox directing you to a new page that looks like Facebook but requires you to log in again. DON'T DO IT! At the log-in page, the hacker is now waiting for you to type in your username and password so they can collect it. Hackers usually do this to steal your identity and break into other accounts where the username and password may be the same (such as your online banking account). If you are redirected to a page where you are asked to re-enter your username and password or any personal information, scrutinize it carefully. If you are unsure and don't need to access the page, just close the window and forget about it.

Do: Read the Terms of Service.
Have you ever noticed in Facebook that it appears the ads seem to be just for you? That's because Facebook scans your posting and accesses your personal information in order to learn what you like and don't like. That way they can attach appropriate advertisers to your page. It's a great way to direct-market. Make sure you read Facebook's Terms of Service and understand their role in the content you post.

Do not: Poke incessantly -- it's annoying!
I think this one is pretty straightforward. Poking is a way to let someone know you are trying to get his or her attention. But there is no message attached, just the fact that you received a poke. Can you imagine if someone sat next to you and poked you all day ... it would drive me crazy!

Do: Understand the difference between private messages and the Wall.

The second option at the top of your Facebook page is Profile. This is your public Wall. Think of it like a billboard on Sunset Blvd. Everyone can see everything posted to your Wall, including passersby. If you want to send a friend a private note on Facebook, then send them a message rather than posting to their Wall. The Wall is not the right place to make plans or talk about personal things.

Do not: Use Facebook to send SPAM or chain letters.
Not only are SPAM and chain letters annoying, they are usually sent to gather your personal information. A chain letter is created by one person and then sent to others. But every time you forward a chain letter, there is code in the e-mail that sends all of the e-mail addresses back to the creator of the chain letter. So don't give up your personal information or that of your friends by forwarding the e-mail. I promise you will not have bad luck for 7 years!

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