"There are real threats out there, and there's a lot to be cautious about."
From our experience, a parent could say the same about the average person's Facebook account. That's because, that little profile that you loved and raised, and spent so much time with, can easily come back to haunt you if the wrong people have access to it – or if you use it to unintentionally share the wrong kinds of information. That leads to the advice in our headline: Protect Your Facebook Profile Like it Was Your Teenage Daughter… protect it carefully so you don't have to live with the regret of wishing you had done so later.
What does that actually mean in the real world? Here are some beginning tips and pieces of helpful advice:
Consider keeping separate accounts.
Although you aren't technically supposed to have multiple accounts on Facebook, it's an open secret that many people do. By keeping your work and personal accounts (and lives) separate, you can prevent the kind of sharing that could harm your credibility, or even your career. And if you must have personal contacts in your professional sphere, make sure they know what kinds of things to share and what you'd rather not have mentioned online.
Get to know your privacy settings.
Remember, all social media accounts are essentially public platforms, regardless of what you do to your privacy settings. Still, millions of people have never even looked at their own account preferences, much less changed them. By spending just a few minutes with Facebook privacy settings, you can control at least some of the details that are shared amongst different groups, and restrict what strangers can learn about you.
Choose your friends carefully.
As with anything else in life, a lot of the biggest threats and opportunities on Facebook lie within your social and professional circles. In other words, if you have lots of people in your network who constantly "over-share," then it's likely that they won't mind spilling your personal beans, either. There's nothing wrong with restricting your connections, or restricting the access of other people within your network, if it helps to keep your profile safe and secure.
Just say no to most apps and games.
While some kinds of apps can make social media marketing easier, most just invite information-sharing and privacy problems. That's especially true of the dozens of games that people play on social sites, which collect and spread data about your network, browsing habits, etc., to other parts of the Internet. The moral of the story? Unless you really need the app and know what kinds of privacy restrictions it offers, pass on installing it.
Does this all seem a bit paranoid and overprotective?
Possibly, but taking simple precautions is also the best way to prevent things like identity theft, or the annoyances that come with simple spammy marketing techniques. Whether you are using Facebook as a marketer or just as a relative and friend, there are lots of people who want to take an interest in what you're doing for the wrong reasons.
Facebook can be a lot of fun, but it can also cause you a lot of headaches – just like a teenage daughter. So, keep a close eye on it and learn to be the kind of protective parent that raises a sheltered profile.