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NEWS | Oct. 14, 2015

Making Yourself Safer on Social Media

By Airman 1st Class Derrik Florkiewicz 628th Communications Squadron

Many of us use Facebook to keep up with family and friends, sharing pictures, thoughts, etc. and it may seem that only a small percentage of Facebook's user accounts are compromised. However, the raw numbers are astounding.

Chances are, either you or a friend, have dealt with the repercussions of an unpleasant hacked Facebook account. Facebook documents have revealed that more than 600,000 accounts are hacked on a daily basis. That may only be 0.06% of the billion-plus account logins that happen every day but that averages out to be one every 140 milliseconds.

With these numbers in mind, it would probably be in our best interest to keep a few simple tips in mind before paddling out to surf the internet.

Only establish and maintain connections with people you know and trust. This is especially important when you consider the amount personal information you divulge on your own page. 

Review your friend connections often. Many of us have added people that we don't actually know in real life. Assume that anyone can see any information about your activities, personal and professional, that you post and share.

Don't post anything on social media that you wouldn't want everyone to know. Ensure that your family takes similar precautions with their accounts. Their privacy and sharing settings can expose your personal data.

Use secure browser settings when possible and monitor your browsing history to ensure that you recognize all access points.

Always be vigilant of external links. These can often lead to unsafe sites, potentially exposing you to viruses. Do not login to or link to third-party sites (e.g. Twitter, Instagram) using your Facebook account. "Facebook Connect" shares your and your friends' information with third party sites that may aggregate and misuse personal information.

Beware of apps, such as Farmville, that request intrusive permission rights to your profile. Granting these apps permissions can potentially give them the ability to access and share your personal information.

If you no longer plan on using your Facebook account, instead of leaving it idle and vulnerable, delete it. If you plan on being away from your account for an extended period of time, such as a deployment, you have the option of putting your account on hiatus.

These are just a few of the many precautions you can take to ensure your social media experience is safe and protected during your time on the internet.