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Some Simple Steps to Social Media Privacy

When was the last time you checked your privacy settings on your social media profiles? Being aware of the information you share is a critical step in securing your online identity. Below we’ve outlined some of the top social media sites and what you can do today to help keep your personal information safe.

FACEBOOK Social Media Privacy

Click the padlock icon in the upper right corner of Facebook, and run a Privacy
Checkup. This will walk you through three simple steps:

  • Who you share status updates with
  • A list of the apps that are connected to your Facebook page
  • How personal information from your profile is shared.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend your Facebook Privacy setting be set to “Friends Only” to avoid sharing your information with strangers. You can confirm that all of your future posts will be visible to “Friends Only” by reselecting the padlock and clicking “Who can see my stuff?” then select “What do other people see on my timeline” and review the differences between your public and friends only profile. Oh, and don’t post anything stupid!

TWITTER Social Media Privacy

Click on your profile picture. Select settings. From here you will see about 15 areas on the left-hand side. It’s worth it to take the time to go through each of them and select what works for you. We especially recommend spending time in the “Security and Privacy” section where you should:

  • Enable login verification. Yes, it’s an extra step to access your account, but it provides increased protection against unauthorized access of your account.
  • Require personal information whenever a password reset request is made. It’s not foolproof, but this setting will at least force a hacker to find out your associated email address or phone number if they attempt to reset your password.
  • Determine how private you want your tweets to be. You can limit who (if anybody) is allowed to tag you in photos and limit your posts to just those you follow.
  • Turn off the option called “Add a location to my Tweets”.
  • Uncheck the options that allow others to find you via email address or phone number.
  • Finally, go to the Apps section and check out which third-party apps you’ve allowed access to your Twitter account (and in some cases, post on your behalf) and revoke access to anything that seems unfamiliar or anything that you know you don’t use anymore.

Oh, and don’t post anything stupid!

INSTAGRAM Social Media Privacy

The default setting on Instagram is public, which means that anyone can see the pictures you post. If you don’t want to share your private photos with everyone, you can easily make your Instagram account private by following the steps below. NOTE: you must use your smartphone to change your profile settings; it does not work from the website.

  • Tap on your profile icon (picture of person), then the gear icon* to the right of your name.
  • Select Private Account. Now only people you approve can see your photos and videos.
  • Spend some time considering which linked accounts you want to keep and who can push notifications to you.

*Icons differ slightly depending on your smartphone. Visit the Instagram site for specifics and for more in depth controls.

Oh, and don’t post anything stupid!

SNAPCHAT Social Media Privacy

Snapchat’s settings are really basic, but there’s one setting that can help a lot: If you don’t want just anybody sending you photos or videos, make sure you’re using the default setting to only accept incoming pictures from “My Friends.”  By default, only users you add to your friends list can send you Snaps. If a Snapchatter you haven’t added as a friend tries to send you a Snap, you’ll receive a notification that they added you, but you will not receive the Snap they sent unless you add them to your friends list.  Here are some other easy tips for this site:

  • If you want to change who can send you snaps or view your story, click the snapchat icon and then the gear (settings) icon in the top right hand corner. Scroll down to the “Who can…” section and make your selections.
  • Like all services, make sure you have a strong and unique password.
  • Remember, there are ways to do a screen capture to save and recover images, so no one should develop a false sense of “security” about that.

In other words, (all together now) don’t post anything stupid!

A Final Tip: The privacy settings for social media sites change frequently. Check in at least once a month to ensure your privacy settings are still as secure as possible and no changes have been made.

John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

Internet Privacy & Kids: Social Network Monitoring in Schools

librarians-watching computer useSocial network monitoring becomes big business. Fresh off the heels of learning that the NSA has been gleaning data about us using information found on social networking sites comes the news that a school district in California is paying a monitoring service to watch and report on what students are posting on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Glendale Unified School District is paying $40,000 over the next year to a company called Geo Listening to monitor its students’ social media activity.  This program was introduced after one of their students, 15-year-old Drew Ferraro, committed suicide by jumping from the roof of Crescenta Valley High School.  It started as a pilot project in three schools last year and is now being rolled out to all middle and high schools across the district.

Glendale is not the first school system to use monitoring services.  They are used fairly commonly at the college level.  Louisville and Kentucky use a social media monitoring system with their athletes that flags words for coaches that relate to drugs, sex or alcohol and they also have access to all of the athletes’ photos and videos.  (LSU, Florida, Texas A&M, Texas, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Auburn, Baylor and New Mexico are among the other schools that use similar monitoring methods).

 

Mount Wachusett Community College was one of the first schools to monitor social media on a dedicated level and was recognized for being proactive by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations.  Robin Duncan, vice president for marketing and communication at MWCC says simply, “If you don’t have someone paying attention to your new media … you’re being negligent.”

In Indiana, a high school senior, Austin Carroll, was expelled from Garrett High School and forced to enroll at an alternate school to get his diploma for a profanity-laden tweet that was flagged by his school’s social media monitoring system.  Many schools that don’t pay for a monitoring service still task their administrators with doing it.

So, while it’s nothing new for schools to monitor their students’ communications (I recall having a few notes intercepted and read by my teachers), it begs some questions:

  • Who should be in charge of monitoring our kids?
  • How much privacy should kids be allowed?
  • To what extent should schools be involved?

The answers are not straight-forward.  When daily reports of government surveillance cause a public outcry over privacy issues, we want to extend those same privileges to our kids.  Yet, there are cases like the Ohio school shooter, T.J. Lane, who killed three classmates and wounded others.  Lane had posted chilling comments on Facebook a few months before and tweeted the morning of the shooting that he was bringing a gun to school.  It was right there, publicly posted, yet no one knew to stop him.

It’s easy to blame the schools, to blame the district, to blame someone else, but as parents, WE should be the ones to monitor our kids’ posts…

  • WE need to remind them that all posts are permanent, public and exploitable – forever.
  • WE need to look for warning signs of violent intentions toward self or others, substance abuse, bullying…
  • WE need to get off our own Facebook pages and check in on our kids.
  • We need to have engaging, heart-to-heart conversations with our kids so that they feel we are the ones to reach out to when the dark days come.

The truth, however, is that some (okay-most) parents don’t do it.  As with countless other issues that we have come to expect our schools to teach (sex education, drug resistance, anti-bullying), keeping up with social media is something most parents aren’t comfortable with, don’t understand completely, or just don’t want to deal with. And that unwillingness has disastrous consequences for kids who are troubled, in trouble, or the victim of another troubled child.

Ralph Hicks, superintendent of Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District in Massachusetts, explains that the legal doctrine “in loco parentis,” which is Latin for “in place of a parent” allows school officials to interfere in the lives of students only in issues involving the school.  More and more, that definition involves anything said about the school (or students and staff) whether the communication occurs on campus or not.

Parents (and students) who think that this monitoring is a violation of their kid’s privacy should remember that EVERYTHING BEING MONITORED IS ALREADY PUBLICSchools aren’t breaking into your child’s Facebook account, they are simply monitoring what everyone else on the Internet can see. And if it saves a life, thwarts a bully, or rescues a child in need, it’s worth it. 

John Sileo is a keynote speaker on Internet Privacy and CEO of  The Sileo Group, a think tank that trains organizations to harness the power of their digital footprint. Sileo’s clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security and businesses looking to protect the information that makes them profitable.

Summer School for Parents: Protecting Your Kids' Social Media Privacy

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girls phones summerSchool is out for the summer and the tasks that often fall upon the shoulders of your local schools are now sitting squarely on yours.   In addition to making sure your kids practice their math facts, read regularly and get plenty of exercise, you’ll want to watch out for how they spend their free time when it comes to using Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and other sites that can expose their social media privacy.

Social Media refers to web-based and mobile applications that allow individuals and organizations to create, engage, and share new user-generated or existing content in digital environments through multi-way communication.  Okay, that’s too technical. Social media is the use of Internet tools to communicate with a broader group. Some of the most common examples are listed above.  If you have elementary aged children, they may use more secure, school-controlled forms such as Schoology, Edmodo or Club Penguin, but if your kids are older, I can almost guarantee they’re into Social Media sites whether you know if or not.

Statistics show that 73% of online adolescents visit social networking sites daily and two billion video clips are watched daily on YouTube.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recently conducted a study that found that 22 percent of teenagers log onto their favorite social media sites more than 10 times a day, and that 75 percent own cell phones.

So, how do you battle such a time-consuming, captivating influence over your children?  You don’t, because you won’t win!  Instead you look at social media privacy best practices that schools implement and do the same at home.

  • Expect the Internet to be used appropriately and responsibly and set agreements and consequences with your children if it is not.  The Family Online Safety Institute can guide your discussion and even provide a contract.
  • Expand your typical discussions about strangers to include social media
    • Don’t accept unknown friend requests
    • Don’t give out personal info – specifically: last name, phone number, address, birthdate, pictures, password, location
  • Warn kids about the dangers of clicking on pop-up ads or links with tempting offers, fun contests, or interesting questionnaires, even if they’re sent from a friend.  They may really want that free iPad being offered, but chances are it’s just a way for someone to glean their personal information.
  • Monitor the information your kids give out and their use of sites; let your children know they should have no expectation of privacy.  (Make that part of your contract.)  You can also install filtering software to monitor their social media use and even their cell phones.  A few popular ones are Net Nanny and PureSight PC to help keep your child safe online and My Mobile Watchdog to help with monitoring their cell phones.
  • Check your privacy settings for all Internet sites and make sure they are set to the strictest levels.
  • Remind your child that once it’s published, social media is public, permanent, and exploitable forever- even when “deleted”
  • If your children are not 13, keep them off of Facebook since that is their stated age limit. There are plenty of reasons, not the least of which involves the emotional repercussions of being “unfriended” or cyber bullied.  When they are ready, have your children read and study the actual Facebook user agreement and privacy policy and discuss it with them.
  • Set limits on social networking time and cell phone time, just as you would for TV hours. Many families limit total screen time, which includes everything from computers, iPads, smartphones, and video games to our old fashioned notion of television.
  • Be a good example yourself.  Monitor your own amount of time spent online and seek to find a balance of activities. When you are on you iPhone at dinner, you are letting your kids know that this is acceptable behavior.
  • Monitor your child’s activities and try to stay educated about the latest platforms!

Social Media can be a positive way for kids to continue to develop friendships while they’re home for the summer and to feel like they’re connected to a community that matters more to them than anything.  But there are risks that come with it and it’s your job as a parent to protect them from those risks just as surely as you keep them from taking candy from a stranger

Social networking has an addictive component because dopamine (a natural feel-good drug produced by the body) is released anytime we talk about ourselves. And what is social networking if not a constant exposé of what is happening in our lives? Just make sure you know what is happening in your child’s life, even in the more relaxed months of summer.

John Sileo is an online privacy expert and professional speaker on social media privacy. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Visa, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.

 

Social Media Privacy Laws Provide Protection for Employers and Employees

Do you know your social media privacy rights as they pertain to your workplace?

They will be different depending on where you live because the laws vary from state to state. Utah recently became the fifth state to put into effect such a law that governs the rights of both employees and employers. Legislation has also been introduced or is pending at the Federal level and in 35 states.

This has become a hot topic because more than 90 percent of employers use social media sites to help screen applicants. Since applicants have the ability to determine their online privacy settings to decide what is out there for public viewing, some employers have asked for access to their private social media content to get the real picture.

In addition, employers contend that having access to social media accounts of employees allows them to protect sensitive company information such as trade secrets and financial figures. Employees argue that the information may be used to discriminate against them and inherently invades their privacy. In reality, most of the current legislation actually seeks to protect both sides.

Utah’s Internet Employment Privacy Act enforces protection of employees’ online identities, dictating that an “employer may not request disclosure of information related to [a] personal Internet account.” Also known as House Bill 100, this law, which applies to both employees and applicants, includes asking for usernames and passwords. If employers are found guilty of this, they may face up to a $500 fine. Additionally, the law states that employers may not “take adverse action, fail to hire, or otherwise penalize” anyone who will not disclose their information.

There are exceptions built in to protect the employer. They may legally require such information if the employer has provided the device and/or service or if the information is needed to carry out a disciplinary investigation, particularly if the employee’s actions in some way compromise the company – i.e. sharing of proprietary/confidential information or financial data. In addition, the employer can still view publicly available information in order to conduct due diligence.

In the ever-changing world of social media privacy legislation, one thing is clear; it will keep changing! Both employees and employers should check the current status in their state. The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a good listing to help you do this. As always, know your rights and act on your responsibilities.

John Sileo is a social media privacy expert and professional speaker on building digital trust. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Visa, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.

Twitter privacy expert John Sileo talking with 9News on the AP hack

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This Tweet disrupted the stock market as well as gold and oil prices: “Two explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured”.

Associated Press Twitter Account Hacked by Syrian Electronic Army

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The Associated Press’ primary Twitter account was hacked today, allegedly by a group called the Syrian Electronic Army. This is the same group that took responsibility for the 60 Minutes and 48 Hours account takeovers. 

Syrian Electronic ArmySyrian Electronic Army AP Hack

Once again, the Syrian Electronic Army has managed to take over the Twitter feed of a highly respected news agency, the Associated Press. As you can see in the screen shots above, the hackers used the hacked AP Twitter account to falsely report that there had been two explosions in the White House and that President Obama was injured. Note: Both reports are false.

Hijacking high-profile Twitter accounts and using them for nefarious purposes is nothing new. But causing the stock markets, oil and gold prices to plunge in response is a new, critically significant development.

Are we living in an age where 140 characters are so powerful that they can send the Dow Jones down by more than 100 points? Yes, we are.

That is the undeniable power of digital reputation. The Associated Press has a strong, well-respected reputation online and off. The Syrian Electronic Army hijacked that reputation and used it to manipulate financial markets (however briefly).

Immediate Steps that Associated Press, Twitter Must Take

Twitter has been the focus of so many attacks, it makes you wonder when they will begin to take the basic steps necessary to prevent account takeovers like the AP, 60 Minutes and NPR:

  1. Twitter should immediately implement Two-Factor Authentication, which requires both a password and a texted passcode in order to get into an account. This makes it much harder to hack high-profile handles. 
  2. Both Twitter and the AP should champion a User Education Process that trains their users/readers on how to best detect phishing emails (which is how most of these accounts have been taken over). See the painfully simple video below that gives an example of how to educate people users about what a phishing attack looks like.
  3. Again, both entities should give their users guidance on how to create long, strong, site-specific and frequently varied passwords to lower the relative hackability of their accounts.

 

In previous weeks, NPR and CBS both had their online presence temporarily hijacked by the SEA. The group did get its own Twitter account suspended in the process, though new ones have been springing up in response.

Unlike some similar attacks by other groups, the SEA is very public about its involvement, often leaving messages like “Syrian Electronic Army was here.” The official “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours” accounts were among those compromised and made to display pro-Syria tweets bashing the U.S. Although control of the CBS feeds was eventually wrestled back, they have been officially suspended in response.

This hack is a wake up call: the more people you reach, the greater your circle of influence, the more appetizing it is for politically motivated groups to take control of your social media accounts and use them to move markets. 

John Sileo is CEO of The Sileo Group and speaks around the world on social media privacy, identity theft prevention and reputation protection. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.

Social media privacy? Facebook snoops even when you're not logged in

Despite its claim to being aware of social media privacy, Facebook continues to mine user activity for ad data. Now, it’s expanding beyond the boundaries of its site – and even your browser.

Though it claims to respect user privacy and keep its targets protected, Facebook is offering advertisers on its site a new way to narrow its audience through demographics based on specific purchases called “Partner Categories.” Beware of the rather innocuous official announcement which says that a local business could use it to find customers who may be willing to give them their business, according to recent purchases. The feature would accomplish this using third party data collection companies like Acxiom to build predictions based on what you have bought.

Previously, advertisers showed ads to us based on the interests we expressed on Facebook. Now, they have the added ammunition of knowing every product and brand we’ve purchased through our desktop or mobile.

Even if all of our secrets aren’t being revealed to these outside sources, this is still a breach of privacy. And what kind of slippery slope could this be sending us down?

It’s yet another area where anyone with a credit card can be observed without their knowledge. True, it’s hard to imagine a world without omnipresent advertising, and Facebook says this sort of technique has existed for a while. However, bringing it into the realm of online personal networking raises social media privacy concerns.

Advertisers now have even more specific ways to know what we’ve been buying and how that will affect our decisions in the future. It’s a chilling thought to those who would rather keep our shopping history private.

Social media risk management can get overlooked in the face of new developments. But as companies like this find more ways into our lives, it’s important to remember how much of our activity is being watched – and what we can do to protect ourselves. 

John Sileo is a social media privacy expert and keynote speaker on data security, fraud and reputation protection. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.

Facebook scoffs at social media privacy by taking over Home page

All Facebook Home will cost you is … well … your right to social media privacy on your Android phone. That’s a steep price to pay for Facebook Home saving you the extra step of clicking through a mobile app to access photos, updates and messages.

Facebook recently announced its new application “Home,” which will essentially replace the standard home screen of a user’s Android phone, giving users all Facebook, all the time. If you thought this social media colossus had control over data before, wait until users start willingly handing over their home screens. By doing so, they’re offering up valuable information contained in their mobile phones.

Facebook makes it very cloudy to know what you’re actually giving away. And though it may not be as much as the doomsayers predict, it surely is more than you’ll want to willingly contribute. For instance, Facebook’s new feature “Chat Head” combines Facebook messages with SMS. Even if it’s not collecting voice data from calls, it will likely gather data such as who you’ve called, how long you talked and how often that number is called.

Moments after the Home announcement, Facebook posted a memo on its website addressing privacy concerns. The fact that Facebook knew questions about social media privacy would be raised immediately after the unveiling indicates the company’s fear of user concern.

“Home is software that turns your Android phone into a great, living, social phone,” the message read. “Home doesn’t change anything related to your privacy settings on Facebook, and your privacy controls work the same with Home as they do everywhere else on Facebook.”

Notice that Facebook never claims not to violate social media privacy with Home. It just says that it won’t violate your privacy any more than it already does.

This is, unfortunately, not unchartered territory for Facebook – a serial offender when it comes to violating users’ social media privacy. These same questions were raised after Facebook revealed Graph Search earlier this year. Just like with Graph Search, Home will make it easier for Facebook to sell your personal data to advertisers.

That is part of Facebook’s brilliance and our ignorance – they know that most of us won’t take the time to read the Data Use Policy. Fool Facebook; read the Data Use Policy. Then we users can no longer plead ignorance, as we know exactly what Facebook is doing – creating an inventory of our private data and behaviors to sell to an adoring advertising marketplace that rewards them with a bump in stock value.

Make the right decision when Facebook releases the software this Friday – after all, home is where your privacy is. Or at least, that’s the way it should be.

John Sileo is a social media privacy expert and keynote speaker on reputation, privacy and cyber data protection. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.

6 Ways Your Facebook Privacy Is Compromised | Sileo Group

One billion people worldwide use Facebook to share the details of their lives with their friends and may be unaware their Facebook Privacy could be compromised. Trouble is, they also might be unintentionally divulging matters they consider private to co-workers, clients and employers.

Worse yet, they may be sharing their privacy with marketing companies and even scammers, competitors and identity thieves. Luckily, with some Facebook privacy tips, you can help protect your account online.

Here are six ways Facebook could be compromising your private information and how to protect yourself:

Facebook Privacy

1.  The new Timeline format brings old lapses in judgment back to light. Timeline, introduced in late 2011, makes it easy for people to search back through your old Facebook posts, something that was very difficult to do in the past. That could expose private matters and embarrassing photos that you’ve long since forgotten posting.

What to do: Review every entry on your Facebook timeline. To hide those you do not wish to be public, hold the cursor over the post, click the pencil icon that appears in the upper right corner, select “Edit or remove” then “Hide from timeline.” Being able to “revise” your history gives you a second chance to eliminate over-sharing or posts made in poor taste.

Facebook Privacy2.  Facebook third-party app providers can harvest personal details about you—even those you specifically told Facebook you wished to be private. Third-party apps are software applications available through Facebook but actually created by other companies. These include games and quizzes popular on Facebook like FarmVille and Words with Friends, plus applications like Skype, TripAdvisor and Yelp. Most Facebook apps are free—the companies that produce them make their money by harvesting personal details about users from their Facebook pages, then selling that information to advertisers. In other words, you are paying for the right to use Facebook using the currency of your personal information.

Many apps collect only fairly innocuous information—things like age, hometown and gender that are probably not secret. But others dig deep into Facebook data, even accessing information specifically designated as private.

Example: A recent study found that several Facebook quiz game apps collected religious affiliations, political leanings and sexual orientations. Many Facebook apps also dig up personal info from our friends’ Facebook pages—even if those friends don’t use the apps. There’s no guarantee that the app providers will sufficiently safeguard our personal information and there are numerous instances where they have done just the opposite.

What to do: Read user agreements and privacy policies carefully to understand what information you are agreeing to share before signing up for any app. The free Internet tool Privacyscore is one way to evaluate the privacy policies of the apps you currently use (www.facebook.com/privacyscore), but remember that it is provided by the very company that is collecting all of your data. You also can tighten privacy settings. In “Facebook Privacy Settings,” scroll down to “Ads, Apps and Websites,” then click “Edit Settings.” Find “Apps You Use” and click “Edit Settings” again to see your privacy options. And be sure to delete any apps you don’t use. While you are in the privacy settings, take a spin around to find out other data you are sharing that might compromise your privacy.

Facebook Privacy3.  Facebook “like” buttons are spying on you—even when you don’t click them. Each time you click a “like” button on a Web site, you broadcast your interest in a subject not just to your Facebook friends but also to Facebook and its advertising partners.

Example: Repeatedly “like” articles in a publication with a specific political viewpoint, and Facebook advertisers might figure out how you vote.

Not clicking “like” buttons won’t free you from this invasion of privacy. If you’re a Facebook user and you visit a Webpage that has a “like” button, Facebook will record that you visited even if you don’t click “like.” Facebook claims to keep Web browsing habits private, but once information is collected, there’s no guarantee that it won’t get out.

Example: If an insurance company purchases this data, it might discover that someone applying for health coverage has visited Web pages about an expensive-to-treat medical disorder. The insurer might then find an excuse to deny this person coverage, or to raise their rates substantially.

What to do: One way to prevent Facebook from knowing where you go online is to set your Web browser to block all cookies. Each browser has a different procedure for doing this, and it will mean that you will have to re-enter your user ID and password each time you visit certain Web sites.

Another option is to browse the web in “InPrivate Browsing” mode (Internet Explorer), “Incognito” mode (Google Chrome) or “Private Browsing” mode (Firefox and Safari), which seems to be a less intrusive way to raise your privacy levels.

Less conveniently, you could log out of Facebook and select “delete all cookies” from your browser’s privacy settings before visiting Web sites you don’t want Facebook to know about. There are also free plug-ins available to prevent Facebook from tracking you around the Internet, such as Facebook Blocker (webgraph.com/resources/facebookblocker).

Facebook Privacy4.  Social readers” tell your Facebook friends too much about your reading habits. Some sites, including the Washington Post and England’s The Guardian, offer “Social Reader” Facebook tools. If you sign up for one, it will tell your Facebook friends what articles you read on the site, sparking interesting discussions.

The problem: excessive sharing. The tools don’t share articles with your Facebook friends only when you click a “like” button, they share everything you read on the site. Your Facebook friends likely will feel buried under a flood of shared articles, and you might be embarrassed by what the social reader tells your friends about your reading habits.

What to do: If you’ve signed up for a social reader app, delete it. In Facebook privacy settings, choose “Apps you use,” click “Edit Settings,” locate the social reader app, then click the “X” and follow the directions to delete.

Facebook Privacy5.  Photo and video tags let others see you in unflattering and unprofessional situations. If you work for a straight-laced employer, work with conservative clients or are in the job market, you may already realize that it’s unwise to post pictures of yourself in unprofessional and possibly embarrassing situations.

But you may fail to consider that pictures other people post of you can also hurt you.

A Facebook feature called photo tags has dramatically increased this risk. The tags make it easy for Facebook users to identify by name the people in photos they post—Facebook even helps make the IDs—then link these photos to the Facebook pages of all Facebook users pictured.

What to do: Untag yourself from unflattering photos by using the “remove” option on these posts. Arrange to review all future photos you’re tagged in before they appear on your Facebook Timeline by selecting “Timeline and Tagging” in Facebook’s Privacy Settings menu, clicking “Edit settings,” then enabling “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline”. Better yet, ask your friends and family not to post pictures of you without your permission. Be sure to extend the same courtesy to them by asking whether or not they mind you tagging them in a photo.

Facebook Privacy6.  Our Facebook friends—and those friends’ friends—offer clues to our own interests and activities. Even if you’re careful not to provide sensitive information about yourself on Facebook, those details could be exposed by the company you keep.

Example: A 2009 MIT study found it was possible to determine with great accuracy whether a man was gay based on factors including the percentage of his Facebook friends who were openly gay—even if this man did not disclose his sexual orientation himself.

Sexual orientation isn’t the only potential privacy issue. If several of your Facebook friends list a potentially risky or unhealthy activity, such as motorcycling, cigar smoking or bar hopping among their interests—or include posts or pictures of themselves pursuing this interest—an insurer, college admissions officer, employer or potential employer might conclude that you likely enjoy this pursuit yourself.

What to do: Take a close look at the interests and activities mentioned by your Facebook friends on their pages. If more than a few of them discuss a dangerous hobby, glory in unprofessional behavior, or are open about matters of sexual orientation or political or religious belief that you consider private, it might be wise to either remove most or all of these people from your friends list, or at least make your friends list private. Click the “Friends” unit under the cover photo on your Facebook page, click “Edit,” then select “Only Me” from the drop-down menu.

Most of all, remember that Facebook and other social networking sites are social by nature, which means that they are designed to share information with others. The responsibility to protect your personal and private information doesn’t just fall on the social networks; it is also up to you.  Following these Facebook privacy tips can help you succeed in keeping your most personal information safe. 

John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

Look before you 'like': The unseen perils of being friendly on Facebook

Social media seems to be all about spreading the love. If you like something, you show it by clicking the 'like' button, no questions asked. For most people, it stops there – but not for Facebook. 

Everything you do online gets noticed by someone, and even the most minor of digital movements can have repercussions you aren't aware of. A perfect example of this is the "like" feature of Facebook. It seems harmless enough, but a recent study demonstrated that there are unseen depths to it that you might not know about. Every "like" is a new piece of data that can be strung together with the rest of your online information, creating a picture of you that is scarily accurate. 

A USA Today story recently examined a study done by researchers from the University of Cambridge that tallied up the "likes" and used algorithms to predict user behavior. The results were chilling for anyone concerned about social media privacy: by connecting the dots on Facebook, the study was able to correctly guess the race, gender, religion and even the sexual orientation of users in an overwhelming majority of cases. This should serve as a reminder for those who think they have no risk of social media exposure.

Of course, there are those who deliberately use Facebook as a marketing tool to get noticed, promote products, and raise awareness about their profile or brand. But whether you like it or not, every time you browse, you're leaving fingerprints that can be detected and used to make judgments about you that are getting increasingly precise. And depending on who's doing the judging, you could get targeted with unwanted ads – or worse.

It's unrealistic (and perhaps impossible) to close the Pandora's Box that is Facebook completely, now that it has become a part of so many of our lives. It's more practical to figure out ways to work with the monster than against it, and online reputation management can help you figure out the best methods of limiting your individual vulnerability before someone unsavory figures you out.     

John Sileo is a social media expert and keynote speaker on privacy, identity and digital reputation protection. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.