The Facebook (FB) condition, one of mixed and varying consequences, from simple and innocent to disturbing and catastrophic.
Used correctly and responsibly, FB can be both enjoyable and rewarding. I can attest to having some very happy moments because of FB. Unfortunately, FB can also be the breeding ground for some downright nasty and deplorable behaviour from some equally despicable people.
There are some simple steps you can take to secure yourself, and your friends on your personal FB account. I say protect your friends, as well, since an undesirable person on your list has access to your friends as well. I believe that there is an onus on one to protect their FB friends.
The following is neither exhaustive nor cast in stone, but has generally worked well for me more often than not.
1. Know the people you add to your list. If you have no idea who the person is, do not accept their requests or add them to your list. I know for sure that there are people who have fake FB accounts masquerading as people who they are not. There is also the fact that a friend of your friend is not necessarily a friend you will want, or should have on your list.
2. If you are going to add someone you do not know personally to your FB list, verify first such people. Do not be afraid to ask other trusted friends on FB to verify who people sending you friend requests are. If you are still going to add someone, you have not fully verified, you may very well opt to restrict their access to your posts and friends.
3. Take note of which of your posts people like on your page. This can highlight the person’s interest in you. If a person is only liking or commenting on particular post that you make, it may indicate that person’s particular and perhaps not so admirable interest in you. There is also such a thing a FB stalking, so you may similarly want to be careful of broadcasting your movements on FB.
4. Know who to trust. If someone you emphatically trust indicates to you that someone on your FB may not be “kosher”, you may be minded to look into it. They may be wrong and be making something out of nothing. But they may also be correct. What you may not want to do is brush it off before you look into it.
5. Keep your list to a manageable size. Unless you are running a business page on FB, there is no need for hundreds or thousands of listed friends. I personally have less than 70 FB friends. If truth be told, if you do not properly managed your FB friends list, half of the people on your list hardly communicate with you, and about a quarter of that half actually do not genuinely like you.
6. Manage your FB account. From time to time, you may opt to restrict or remove individuals from your list. Sometimes it may be appropriate to take the extreme measure to block certain individuals.
7. Last but not least, review your FB security settings. Apart from all the recent furore about data protection, I have known people who have had their FB accounts hacked. Good security practices are therefore quintessential. Be extremely mindful, as well, that what you post on FB may very well be immortalised for all time. Even if you make your best efforts to delete a post you inadvertently or deliberately make, you may very well find this futile once they have been “screen grabbed” and “circulated”.
Facebook can be your best friend or your worst enemy based on how you choose to conduct yourself within its confines. It can also either be a casual pastime or a dangerous obsession. Whichever the case depends you, and only on you.