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Facebook privacy settings protect your profile

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Nearly half of Americans have a Facebook page, and each day a tremendous amount of personal information is added to the site. But a recent Consumer Reports survey cautions that some personal information on Facebook can be used against you and in ways you might not even imagine.

Attorney Kevin Jolly was shocked when he found someone had created a fake page in his name and used it to send messages to his friends.

"He portrayed me as a very flamboyant gay man who wanted to share his sexual desires in a very, very graphic way," said Jolly.

Jolly says he quickly contacted Facebook but it took several emails and almost a month before the imposter profile was removed.

"Their security department was horrible," said Jolly.

Problems with Facebook are on the rise, up 30 percent in the last year, according to a Consumer Reports National Research Center survey. It was conducted in January among a nationally representative sample of 2,002 online households.

"We estimate that 7 million Facebook users ran into trouble in the past year, everything from someone using their login without their permission to them being harassed or threatened," said Consumer Reports Editor-in-Chief Kim Kleman.

Furthermore, Consumer Reports says some of the personal information widely revealed on Facebook can come back to haunt you.

An estimated 4.8 million posted where they'd be on a certain day, a tip-off to burglars. Four-point-seven million people "liked" a page about medical conditions or treatments, details a health insurer might use against you.

"Employers can also look for clues in wall posts and photos that may play into whether you get hired," said Kleman.

Consumer Reports says the government is also peeking at your data. For instance, a 2009 IRS training manual shows how to use social networks like Facebook to "assist in resolving a taxpayer case."

You can restrict who sees your Facebook wall posts and photos by updating your privacy settings. But 17 percent of current members said they did not use them, according to the Consumer Reports survey. But you should use privacy controls, especially for kids on Facebook, to avoid being stalked.

To find your Facebook account privacy settings, on the home page go to the top right and click on the "Account Menu," then click on privacy settings, then click on "Edit Settings." From there you will have several preference choices to make depending on how private you want to make your Facebook page, which can be complicated.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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technology, security, save money / consumer news, ric romero
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