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The site knows an awful lot about its users – and some of it might put them at risk

Facebook knows a lot about you, most of which is shared with friends to help you all out. But it has a dark side.

Much of the information stored and shared on the site could be used maliciously, and so it is important to ensure that you’re careful about all of the data that’s on there.

As such, it’s worth at least being aware of all of the data that you have given over. You might not want to delete it all – but either way it’s good to know what you’re sharing.

Your interests

This is perhaps the one most of use to Facebook – it collects everything that it thinks might be of interest to you and uses that to target ads at you. It does that through two main routes: encouraging you to like things so that they’re on your profile, and then guessing other things based on your likes and other activity.

But that information might be private, or you might not want people knowing what you’re into. So you can easily remove interests – or even give Facebook entirely different ones, if you wish

Your birthday

Birthdays on Facebook are traditional: everyone posts on your wall, and soon after that you have to send out a message thanking them for their wishes.

But they’re also potentially damaging – your birthday is actually very sensitive information that can give people more easy access to your bank and other personal accounts. So it’s best to keep it quiet.

The site forces you to hand this information over, so that it can make sure that you’re old enough to use it. And putting in the wrong date is possible but it will mean that people will wish you a happy birthday on whichever date you choose – after which you’ll be forced to explain.

Instead it’s best just to hide the information, making sure that nobody can see the information on your birthday or on your profile. 

Your home address

You probably wouldn’t give out your home address to a stranger. But you might be doing that accidentally while you use the site.

People often list their address while planning events, or even on their own page. If you need to tell people where you are, it’s best to do it privately in a direct message – otherwise, it’s probably safest to be vague and list only the region or town you live.

Where you’ve worked or went to school

This can be a nice way of catching up with former colleagues or school friends, and even getting jobs. But it can also be a terrifying way of those people catching up with you.

The next stage for Facebook?

Keeping full details of all of your employment on your profile makes it easier for people to find you since you’ll more easily show up in search results and in groups. If you want to keep the information on there but would rather not show up there, you could change the name slightly, so that it will be obvious to anyone who visits but people will less easily be able to find you.

Old, embarrassing information

This isn’t so much a security or privacy concern – though it might be – as it is about conserving your pride. Because Facebook is now so old, it has changed a lot – and, probably, so have you.

That could mean that there’s embarrassing information still hanging on in undiscovered and unwatched parts of the site. It’s worth checking through the whole thing and making sure that there’s no odd or shameful bits of information that you’d rather be rid of.

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