Facebook is one of the biggest social media sites in existence. Earlier this year, the site recorded over 2.7 billion monthly users. It’s a fantastic platform to connect with others, share your pictures and stories, and even network with potential employers. But such a large platform doesn’t come without risks, and Facebook is no exception. Being aware of these following dangers could help prevent a user from being tricked, getting caught up in a scam, or worse.
Facebook is partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as a distributor of AMBER Alerts. If you see an AMBER Alert while scrolling on Facebook, don’t immediately disregard it. The alert could very well be legitimate. However, be aware that not all alerts on Facebook are genuine. People online take advantage of Facebook’s efforts to spread awareness and post false alerts or spread fake information on missing children. These accounts often appear to be legitimate and even government-associated, but they are only attempting to misinform Facebook users. Double-check any AMBER alerts you see with the official active AMBER alert database to be sure.
Social media sites like Facebook are a common place for giveaways. Companies, for example, often seek out new customers by offering products for free. But this also makes Facebook a prime spot for fake giveaways and contests. Remember this: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t trust a giveaway coming from an individual or company that you don’t personally know or can’t find online. Never give your personal information out for “shipping” or any other false requests that these giveaway creators may ask for.
These are very similar to giveaways but will ask for more information up front to “enter” you in the contest. Again, if the contest seems too good to be true, it probably is, and you never want to give your information out to these sorts of scams. Fake company pages can easily be set up on Facebook to run their own “contest,” when it’s really just a ruse to gather personal information from as many people as possible.
Sharing personal information
Facebook requests information when you create your account, but it also offers a wide array of options for entering information into your account for others to see. On your profile, you can include places you’ve lived, schools you’ve been to and jobs you’ve had, your likes and dislikes, relationship status, birthday and even more. It’s tempting to fill all these slots out, but it’s much safer to keep this information to yourself. Sharing too much personal information on Facebook or anywhere online can lead to identity theft or hacking.
Never share information like your current location or phone numbers online. This applies even if it’s just to let your Facebook friends know where you’re at for the day. If you really want to show everyone the cool hiking spot you just visited, wait until you’re home before sharing. Burglars can use Facebook as a way of telling if a potential victim is at home or not. With that in mind, publicly stating that you’re currently at a location away from your house is not a safe choice.
Questionable messages from friends
These scams, which appear as a message from a friend, run across every social media app because they are so easy to fall for. They appear as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak; you think your friend is messaging you, you click open the message, and you receive a virus. If you receive a message from your friend on Facebook asking you anything along the lines of “is this picture you?” or “check out this picture of you!” it’s important to be wary. Usually these messages will be accompanied by an attachment. Once you click on the attachment, that’s when you receive the virus or browser hijacker. Any message out of the ordinary from a friend—or from someone you don’t expect—that has an attachment is something to be cautious of.
The enjoyment that Facebook brings can far outweigh the dangers, as long as users are aware and able to keep themselves and their accounts safe. Keep an eye out for these hidden dangers on Facebook and you’ll enjoy a safer social media experience.