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No-Brainer Tips: Safe Social Networking

By Will from Holland

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By now, everybody (sort of) knows some of the negative aspects of social networking sites: your personal information is shared with many and privacy is pretty non-existent, if you haven't changed your privacy settings.

Has that stopped you or me from using sites such as Facebook®, MySpace™, Twitter™ and the like? Of course not. Social networks are fun. But do total strangers and scam artists need to know every detail of your life? Probably not.

Trouble is, most social networks set up their default settings so you automatically give away everything about your life. Bingo, your information is out there, and bingo, stuff like this happens:

You become an involuntary spammer.

When you share your email address or address book on your social network, you're asking for trouble: some networks send endless spam emails—in your name—to all of your email addresses. Real scammers also "capture" some of your email addresses and start spamming your friends. They imply they're your friend and use that trust to scam your real friends. How to stop this: do not—ever—give your primary email address or share your address book with a social network.

You lose your identity, and maybe more than that.

You broadcast to the world that you and your roomates are heading on a road trip. Bingo, your apartment is robbed while you're gone. Nearly worse: you put your actual birthday, actual address, and actual phone number on a social site. Guess what: identity theft scammers can take that information, match it with other readily available information on you, and create a "new" you: open accounts, spend money. And guess who gets the bill? You do. Solution? Limit hard information about you on all social sites.

You mess up work at work.

Do not ever use a work email address with a social network. Thousands of people get in trouble doing so. If you're smart, you'll create a separate email account for your social networking play.

Don't be played for a chump when it comes to social networking. Read the fine print, change your settings, and lock down your information!

That's it for now. Be sure to read our other articles on privacy, scams, and social networks online on this website.

Good luck out there.

Cheers, Will.