Internet Tips: Safeguard Your Reputation While Socially Networking

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Keep Your Online Profiles Private

By default, the only people who can view your Facebook profile are members of your school, region, or business network (similar settings are available in Friendster). As with MySpace, you can control who is able to access your Facebook page.

For a summary of who can see what about you, log in to your Facebook account and click My Privacy. Choose Edit Settings beneath a profile to indicate what content the network's members can access. You can prevent anyone--except people already accepted as friends--from seeing your profile at all; they'll see only your name and picture. Alternatively, you can allow friends of friends to see it, or you can open it to anyone in the network. Other options let you control who sees your e-mail and home addresses, phone numbers, interest groups, courses, visitor comments, and other individual profile elements (see Figure 4

Figure 4: Privatize your Facebook, and limit contact to friends, fellow students, and coworkers, by taking advantage of the site's various privacy settings.

Enter home addresses, phone numbers, and other sensitive information only when necessary. The more identity thieves, stalkers, and other criminals can find out about you online, the easier they will find it to locate you--so avoid listing your real city, age, and other vital stats.

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