10 Things to Remember About Facebook Privacy and Security

News Analysis: Facebook might be the world's largest social network, but it also suffers from some privacy and security issues that should put users on alert. We take a look at 10 things those folks should remember about using Facebook and keeping themselves safe.

The concerns over privacy on Facebook just keep coming. The week of May 3, the social network's users came across a loophole that allowed them to view their friends' private chat conversations. Facebook quickly patched the hole, but it left some users wondering if the site's attempts to grapple with privacy issues over the past couple years have been doing more harm than good.
It's an understandable worry. Aside from allowing users to view private conversations, Facebook experienced a similar glitch a few months ago when some users received private messages intended for others. Once again, Facebook acted quickly to address the problem, but it caused some privacy advocates to wonder if the social network was doing enough to safeguard data.

For its part, Facebook has said time and again that these are small glitches that are quickly fixed. And it's also important to remember that a service with 400 million active users can't be expected to deliver absolute data security all the time. People who go on the Internet and join social networks should expect a certain degree of vulnerability for their personal data.

That's precisely why it's incumbent on people to act wisely when they join the Facebook social network. No company can be fully trusted to keep a user's individual data safe, nor should it be expected to do so. Inevitably, it's the user's job to maintain personal privacy and security on a social network. But that can only start with education.
Here are some things users must remember about Facebook:
1. There are privacy concerns
In order to have a clear understanding of the potential issues that could arise when using Facebook, it's important to realize that there are real privacy concerns that users should know about. Privacy might not be the most glamorous topic to discuss when talking about Facebook, but users also can't bury their heads in the sand and say the site has never experienced issues that might have affected a user's privacy.

The sooner users accept that Facebook has flaws, the sooner they can start safeguarding their data, changing how they use social networks and gaining a better understanding of what privacy really means on the Web.
2. There are holes
As Facebook becomes more popular, malicious hackers are finding unique ways to target the company's more than 400 million active users. One of their favorite tactics involves a phishing scam that asks users to input their credentials into a fake Facebook look-alike. Once a user does so, hackers have the log-in information they need to do whatever they'd like with the person's profile. Better still, they can sell that data to others. It's an issue that Facebook users must be prepared for.
3. Others can only get what they're offered
When it comes to privacy, only the information a person puts on the social network can be divulged to third parties. It's important to remember that. Although some folks use social networks as places to reveal their deepest and darkest secrets, they're probably not the best places for it. Facebook is a fine site that will allow users to communicate with friends, but some things are better left offline where they have no chance of being accessed by others when a glitch or hacker affects their privacy. When using social networks, users must always remember that what they share could eventually be viewed by someone they wished couldn't access such data.
4. Children have no place on Facebook
As much as Facebook wants users to feel like it's a community for everyone, the social network is best suited for adults. Facebook originally started as a place for college students to hang out. And as it grew and the company started allowing more people in, kids started making their way to the social network. That's not a good thing. If privacy is something that a particular adult is concerned about, then allowing a child on Facebook probably isn't a good move. The Web is still an extremely dangerous place for kids.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...