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Top 10 dos and don'ts of social networking


Admin & Security Team
Feb 19, 2010
Midlands, UK
PC Experience
Very Experienced
Tips to avoid social embarrassment or worse.

It would be great if most members actually read this..... but sadly they probably won't.
This post is a cut down from a much larger post.
The link is at the end to the full post..... please read it!

Because of the importance of Social Networking, I've made this post a sticky

With Hollywood now releasing films about social networking sites, albeit with lashings of erroneous *** thrown in, we thought it would be a good time to look at the benefits and pitfalls of social networking.
Not only is privacy dead, but most people online are happy to give it up it seems.

Social networking can be a great boon. It can entice customers, reconnect old friends and help with a myriad of problems. It can also destroy reputations, trash relationships and lead to heartbreak. Tread wisely.


Honourable mention: Keep aware of privacy tools
Social networking sites can be very poor on privacy controls. After all, if the entire raison d'être of using the site is the sharing of information then wither privacy?

The situation is getting a lot better, thanks to public anger, but in the end it's up to the user to decide their own privacy settings, either by using embedded tools or by simply restricting what they share. If the site gives you tools to do this then use them, otherwise you have no right to complain.

It is well worth spending a few minutes just checking out the latest privacy settings and options to make sure that your information is protected.

Social networking is still very much an evolving field and, if you want to keep safe, you have to make sure you're keeping pace with that evolution.

5. Know who your friends are
This one is obvious and subtle. On one hand you don't want to be exposing your information, and that of your friends, to whatever weirdo just so happens to send out a friend request, but there's also the matter of connections that are not obvious which may prove embarrassing.

Strangers are one thing, but what about co-workers or superiors at the company who may not approve of things like party photos or status updates grumbling or gossiping about work? If you're the sort of person who likes to post these things, you want to make sure certain people aren't viewing your news feed.

Another potential source of trouble could be jealous former partners. Obviously information on how you're moving on and who you're seeing may not be information you want a jealous ex to have.

4. Password awareness
OK, this one cuts two ways. Firstly, you should never use the same password for your social network as you do for your key accounts.

Social networking password protection is still a way behind other applications, and if you lose control of a social networking account you'll want to minimise the effect of a lost password.

That said, you should ideally have a different password for every account you use, but in the real world that's just not possible.

We're seeing increasing numbers of people getting caught out by this, either by accessing sites from a friend's computer and leaving accounts wide open, or in using public terminals which are loaded with key-logging software.

Ideally you should only access your key accounts on a computer you know and are sure is secure.

3. Education, education, education
If you're reading this article the chances are you have a pretty fair grasp of what you should and shouldn't do on social networking sites. But many people out there aren't as wise.

If you're a manager or small business owner, it's a good idea to lay out a policy and guidelines to employees about what sort of behaviour is and isn't appropriate at work, and what sort of company information should be shared and what should stay off Facebook.

It's even more serious for children. The internet can be a dangerous place, and kids need to know how to protect their information and what sort of situations they have to avoid.

The latter case is particularly important. You don't chuck a kid in a swimming pool and expect it to swim, and you certainly shouldn't let kids loose on the internet without advice and training.

2. Question applications
We're kind of at a point in social networking security where we were with email attachments around a decade ago; they're just starting to get really dangerous.

We're seeing increasing reports of bogus applications showing up on Facebook and, given the amount of personal data most people seem to store on there, that's a major security risk for identity theft.

People should have figured this out by now, but I think it bears repeating. Whenever you install an application on Facebook, you are giving that application access to your profile data.

If an application looks to be a bit odd or shady, you should definitely think twice about installing it and giving access to your information.

We are rapidly approaching a point where installing an unknown Facebook application can be just as dangerous as installing a strange piece of software on your desktop PC.

1. Protect information
This one is number one with a bullet. Users absolutely must know how to use Facebook's privacy controls and how to safeguard the information they put online.

Facebook has taken a lot of heat in recent months about how it manages information and informs users about their data. Most recently the company has consolidated all application management into one console page.

But there's only so much the company can do. Ultimately users have to know how to manage the information their put up on Facebook.

Personal information is money and power these days. Advertisers want to know what to sell you, researchers want to find out about you and occasionally someone wants to rob from you.

Don't sell yourself short. Any personal information that's not absolutely essential should be withheld from apps, and don't be too free and easy with anything you put online.



Honourable Mention: Cyber-stalking
When does curiosity turn into an unhealthy interest? Well, if you have to ask yourself that question you've probably gone too far already.

A big part of Facebook is making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. But sometimes you fall out of touch with people for a reason. If you see someone you recognise, send them a friend request. If they don't accept, leave it alone.

If they do accept, a simple hello message is enough. No need to go through every single photo or posting and comment on it. Even with friends, you can sometimes come on a bit too heavy.

The internet, and social networking sites in particular, are a gold mine to the stalker set. That goes double for bullies, as we're seeing with tragic consequences. Social networks have enabled a large amount of nasty behaviour.

5. Drink and type
Fun aside, we can all think of postings on social networks that inspire the thought 'What were they drinking when they wrote that?' Thankfully most social networks include a delete feature, but for some that comes too late and merely adds a fresh horror to the morning-after hangover.

Part of growing up is knowing your limits and having the restraint to put the phone away after you know you've had too many. Unlike those staggering, late night text messages, however, what you put up on Facebook or Twitter is available for everyone in your network to see.

In many cases this can just be embarrassing. But if you use your profile to manage business connections or have co-workers and managers as your friends, it can also put the hurt on your very livelihood.

4. Hammer friends with updates
Well all have one friend who does this. While most people are good for one update every day or two, this person feels like they're falling behind if they go more than an hour without updating their status. They have to share what they're eating for every meal and what they're going to do that night.

Just as bad are the overly proud parents. A photo of your kids at Christmas or playing sports here and there is OK, but three or four photos and 'look how cute my kid is' status updates a week is just irritating.

Actually I prefer frequent updates to Facebook application spam. During my sojourn playing FarmVille I made it a rule never to send requests to everyone, and I wish other people would do the same. If you’re playing a game don’t tell other people about it more than once. It’s the line between advice and spam.

3. Photos
A picture tells a thousand words, which is why you should be very careful of posting any online.

It may not matter how many pages you have on your CV about your work as a sober citizen of note if your employer checks out your Facebook page and sees you half naked having jello shots on various parts of your anatomy. You wouldn't stick such photos up over your desk, so why on earth would you make them available to everyone?

More than a few people I suspect have lost out on big opportunities due to an ill-advised photo.

You may still get warm memories when looking at that picture from your 21st birthday where you’re passed out in front of the all-girls university with an empty Pabst Blue Ribbon box on your head, but a potential employer doesn’t quite see the humour. Neither does your mother, who just got a Facebook account last month.

2. Follow strange links
The new scams making the rounds don't even require you to install an application or repost a link. Perhaps you've seen them from your own friends.

The updates look like videos or news articles and say things like 'shocking video' or 'crazy story'. When you click on the link, you get another window which then links you to a different page.

In the process, however, the page has tricked you into 'liking' the article and re-posting the information onto your friends list. In the meantime, the person behind the scam is making money from traffic to the third-party site.

In short, if you see a link that looks suspicious, don't follow it and advise the person behind it to delete the post.

1. Mistake private for public
The inability to distinguish between a private message and a public posting has already resulted in the loss of jobs, marriages and a great deal of dignity.

It may seem like a trivial matter, but it's shocking to see how many people can't distinguish between a personal message and a wall post. This can have disastrous effects on the sender and the recipient.

There's also the matter of status updates. We touched on knowing who your friends are earlier in this list. It's also important to remember that your friends can see your status updates. Don't post an update unless you're OK with everyone on your list reading it.

Full Story:
Top 10 dos and don'ts of social networking - V3.co.uk - formerly vnunet.com