Women over 50 represent one of the fastest growing demographics on Facebook. But, while social media platforms are gaining popularity with my generation, not everyone knows how to get the most from Facebook, while staying safe online.

Since starting the Sixty and Me Facebook page a year ago, I’ve had the opportunity to try out most of the features that the social network has to offer. Since I care about the safety of every member of the Sixty and Me community, I wanted to share some of the tips that I have learned.

Here are Facebook 6 simple Facebook safety tips to help you find friends, stay safe and maintain your online privacy.

 
 

Choose Your Friends Wisely

It feels good to have lots of friends on Facebook. It validates us. Unfortunately, making good judgments about someone we meet online is harder than when we meet someone in person. Don’t feel obligated to connect with everyone who sends you a friend request, especially if you don’t know them well.

Fortunately, Facebook provides a built in way to limit who can send you friend requests. You can follow these steps to restrict friend requests to only people who are friends of your friends. That said, while friends-of-friends can make great connections, you should still be cautious in adding people that you don’t know personally.

It’s also a good idea to look at your friend list once a year to see if there is anyone on your list that shouldn’t be. You can remove a friend anytime by following these instructions.

Understand Facebook’s Privacy Settings

One of the most important things you can do on Facebook is familiarize yourself with their privacy settings. Facebook updates their privacy options frequently so be sure to ready their instructions on how to update your settings.

The privacy settings section will ask you to specify who can see your posts, who can contact you and who can look you up. For example, under “who can see my stuff,” you can choose to only allow your posts to be seen by “friends,” “public” (everyone), or you can create a custom list.

Changing your privacy and account settings only takes a couple of minutes and it can save you a lot of time and trouble in the future.

Click Cautiously and Carefully

Don’t click carelessly! Facebook does a pretty good job of looking out for scams and viruses, but, no system is perfect. Don’t click on suspicious links. If you see one of your friends posting something that they would normally never post – for example an adult video link or a special offer for a product that they don’t use, their account might have been hacked.

As with any online activity like dating or shopping, just be smart, aware, and apply your good judgment. This is the best way to stay safe on Facebook.  Since knowing what to look for is half the battle, you may also want to check out this list of 6 popular Facebook scams and how to avoid them.

Choose Strong Passwords

We love to hate passwords. One the one hand, we know that they keep our information safe. On the other hand, there is nothing more frustrating then forgetting your password just when you need to access something important online.

One of the most important steps that you can take to keep your data secure online and to stop your accounts from being hacked is to create strong passwords. Strong passwords are longer than 8 characters and use a combination of numbers, letters and punctuation marks (like $, %, or #).

Most people keep their passwords simple so that they can remember them without writing them down. Ironically, this may actually put yourself at risk. It’s usually better to have strong passwords that you write down than weak passwords that are easy to guess

One trick that you can use to get the best of both worlds is to add a pin code to the end of your passwords that you don’t write down. For example, your password might be CuteE!eph@nts followed by your own 4 digit pin code. Since you will always remember your pin code, you can just write down CuteE!eph@nts.

It’s also a good idea to have different passwords for different websites. Once again, this is something that you are much more likely to do if you write down your passwords.

Too Much Information – Don’t Over-Share

Women over 60 are trusting souls and we love to share our lives with others. That’s ok, but, you still need to be careful who you share with. Many people don’t realize that Facebook allows you to choose who is allowed to see your posts. As of the writing of this article, there are several options that you can choose when deciding who can see a post: “public,” “friends,” “only me,” or “custom.” It’s always a good idea to check Facebook’s help section once in a while to see what new options are available.

Even if you limit who can see your posts, it’s still a bad idea to share financial information or ultra-personal details in a Facebook post. First, mistakes can happen and, while Facebook does their best, it’s always possible that an error will cause your message to be seen by others. Second, there are much more secure ways to share confidential or private information.

Personally, I’m always a bit nervous about applications that share my location publically. The last thing I want is for a thief to know when I’m not home. But, as apps like Foursquare become more popular, you will need to decide what you are comfortable with sharing.

Learn How to Block Someone

Relationships change all the time. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, a friendship or family relationship breaks down so much that we just don’t want to stay connected with the other person. When this happens, Facebook makes it easy for you to stop someone else from contacting you or seeing your posts.

Blocking someone is easy. When you are logged in to Facebook, you will see a small padlock icon in the top right of the screen. When you click on this, you will see an option for “How do I stop someone from bothering me?” Enter the name or email address of the person and click “block.” This person will no longer be able to see anything that you post. They also will not be able to post on your timeline.

It’s important to remember that “defriending” someone is not the same as “blocking” them. People that you are no longer friends with may still be able to see your profile and posts (depending on your settings).

Facebook is a great tool for staying connected. The social network also does a lot to try to keep us safe. However, at the end of the day, staying safe online is each of our personal responsibility. As strong, independent women, we need to have the confidence to embrace new technologies. But, we also need to take control of our safety and privacy online.

How many of the tips in this article are you already using? What other Facebook safety tips would you offer to the women in our community?

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