There are now thousands of social networking sites on the internet. The best known include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. They are a great way to stay in touch with friends and relatives and can connect people right across the world. But there are risks and even serious dangers in sharing your personal information on social networks.

 

The risks

You may not have direct control over who can see your profile or posts, even if you have been careful with security settings. They could be seen by friends of your friends that you don't know, and their friends, and so on.

Information you put on social networking sites can help fraudsters guess your passwords and answers to secret questions like your mother's maiden name, pet's name or your first school. They could also find out when you are away on holiday (leaving your home empty), or where your family members are at a given time.

Another major risk in social networking sites is clicking on links which seem genuine or enticing, but can lead to bogus pages or other websites designed to defraud you or compromise your identity.

 

Staying safe on social networks

  • Never put your financial details on a social networking site.
  • Change your passwords regularly.
  • Always read social networking sites' privacy policies.
  • Review your privacy settings - change them if they don't give you enough privacy.
  • Remember that people you don't know might be able to see your profile and anything you publish.
  • Be careful about the amount of personal information you publish, including any travel plans that you or your family make.
  • Create a separate email address just for social network sites.
  • Be cautious about meeting people you have contacted on social networking sites in person - they may not be who they seem.
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