Friday, July 24, 2015

Facebook Rules Everyone Should Follow

When it comes to Facebook, it can be difficult to maintain your grip on reality. It's so easy to click "like", "share", or "post" that we tend to dig holes for ourselves, out of which we cannot climb. Just one click and you could lose your job, spouse or endanger your own child. Daily, I see posts from people who are having internet battles with other people. Some are angry over real life situations and choose to vent about it online. Some are angry that their Facebook content has been displayed elsewhere by a once trusted family member. And some are disgruntled with the pettiest of issues known to man.

All of this is known to every Facebook user and has been for years. No matter how hard we try, we end up coming back to the social media site because, well, everyone else is still addicted to it. No one wants to write letters anymore. I tried it over the past year. It didn't last longer than a few months. But let's face it, Facebook is fun. There's all those funny memes, and silly quizzes and videos you really wouldn't want your boss to know you've watched. It can be a great marketplace for both buyers and sellers. So how can you keep from being caught up in the dark side of Facebook?

Don't approve friend requests for anyone you wouldn't want to have your home address. Think carefully on that sentence for awhile. You post about your favorite restaurant, your child's school pictures, your garden, your job, your car. With minimal effort, an investigative person could track down your location in just a matter of days if not hours. A simple search on a background check website will even narrow down your list of known addresses. I once caught a criminal who defrauded me out of hundreds of dollars with the use of both Facebook posts and a background check website.

Don't post pictures of anything you wouldn't want to appear anywhere else online. I have grown partial to secret groups on Facebook. That's where all of the dirty talk takes place without being placed in Facebook jail. But the reality is, if one person starts to "get into their feelings" about something you may or may not have posted to send a subliminal message, or about their crush liking one too many of your pictures, everything you've ever posted is but a screenshot away. Not all violations of privacy occur the same way. Sometimes, there is that friend or family member that is so proud of something you've posted that they share or screenshot your photo and post it on their page. You trust that friend or family member, not everyone they've chosen to trust. Just like that, your daughter's innocent first toddler bikini photo has made it to the mainstream internet.

Get a journal. No really, go old school with it. When I first left Facebook, I was left with the overwhelming desire to share everything funny or cute I had seen that day. It was the constant interaction that I craved. Unfortunately, posting was preventing me from leaving so I began writing in my journal every time I felt like posting. I had a journal full of Facebook posts in one month. This kept me from oversharing as well as gave me a visual perspective on just how much I put out there for people to use later to exploit me. Just write it down. If you aren't into journals, restrict your posts. Only post at the same time everyday and allow yourself one post per day. You may like as many posts and photos as you choose but don't share or post anything. When your posting time slot arrives, decide, of all the posts you wanted to share, which is still worth sharing or discussing. You'll find that those awesome memes weren't really as awesome as you thought, nor were they worth reposting.

So what if you've already done the things I said not to do above?

Delete friends. If you delete people that never should have been in your profile, you stop them from doing any further damage. You can't undo any access that they already had but it will end with the last moment they had access. Never tell anyone you are deleting them. Those purge posts you see every so often are a no-no. If someone wants to steal your pictures and do malicious things with them, they will definitely do so after a threat of deletion because they know the time to do it will pass. Long after you've deleted that person you will continue to find recent photos online because they harvested them after seeing your purge warning post.

Restrict access. Maybe you know exactly who can be trusted with access to your photos. If so, create a list of those people under "Restricted". Change your post and photo album accessibility to restricted, so that even if someone is in your friends list they cannot see your most treasured photos or personal posts unless they are in your restricted list.

Delete activity. This is my favorite Facebook function. There are times when I overshare. There are times when I become overzealous about a cause or a revolution. I look back on those moments and feel embarrassed. There are times when I check my notifications and see the "Today in the Past" feature. It makes me cringe that I was dumb enough to post some of that stuff. Now I use that notification to delete any record of that post's existence. If there are recent posts I need to undo, I go to the activity link and delete my activity. Just like that, unless someone already shared it, my mistakes are erased. I also use this link to keep my general activity to a minimum. If I have been flooding timelines, then I can undo this mistake by deleting my posts in the activity log section. I do this every week if I have time. Facebook makes you delete each activity one at a time. So you will learn to post a lot less if you begin regulating your activity log.

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