How Facebook Protects Its Members - dummies

How Facebook Protects Its Members

By Carolyn Abram

Facebook’s part in keeping everyone safe requires a lot of manpower and technology power. The manpower involves responding to the reports that you and the rest of Facebook submit, as well as proactively going into Facebook and getting rid of content that violates the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

Facebook protects minors

People under the age of 18 have special visibility and privacy rules applied to them. For example, when a user under the age of 18 (in the United States) posts something and chooses Public from the Privacy menu, that post won’t truly be public until she turns 18. Until then, that post will be visible only to friends of her friends.

Other proprietary systems are in place that are alerted if a person is interacting with the Timelines of minors in ways they shouldn’t, as well as systems that get alerted when someone targets an ad to minors. Facebook tries to prevent whatever it can, but this is where some common sense on the part of teens (and their parents) can go a long way toward preventing bad situations.

You must be at least 13 years old to join Facebook.

Facebook prevents spam and viruses

Everyone can agree that spam is one of the worst parts of the Internet, all too often sliming its way through the cracks into e-mail and websites — and always trying to slime its way into Facebook as well, sometimes in the form of messages to you, or Timeline posts, or groups, or events masking as something it’s not to capture your precious attention.

When you report a piece of content on Facebook, “It’s spam” is usually one of the reasons you can give for reporting it. These spam reports are incredibly helpful. Facebook also has a bunch of systems that keep track of the sort of behavior that spammers tend to do.

The spam systems also keep track of those who message people too quickly, friend too many people, post a similar link in too many places, and do other such behaviors that imitate spam. If you end up really taking to Facebook, at some point you may get hit with a warning to slow down your poking or messaging. Don’t take it too personally, this is the spam system at work.

Facebook prevents phishing

Phishing is a term that refers to malicious websites attempting to gain sensitive information by masquerading as the sites you use and trust. A malicious site acquires someone’s Facebook credentials and then messages all that user’s friends with a link to a phishing site that looks like Facebook, asking them to log in. They do so, and now the bad guys have a bunch of new Facebook logins and passwords.

Just like spam and virus prevention, Facebook has a series of proprietary systems in place to try to break this cycle. If you do have the misfortune to get phished (and it can happen to the best of us), you may run into one of the systems that Facebook uses to help people take back their Timelines and protect themselves from phishing in the future.

The best way to protect yourself from phishing is to get used to the times and places Facebook asks for your password. If you just clicked a link within Facebook and suddenly there’s a blue screen asking for your information, be suspicious! Similarly, remember that Facebook will never ask you to e-mail it your password. If you receive an e-mail asking for something like that, report it as spam immediately.

If you want to stay up-to-date with the latest scams on Facebook, or want more information about protecting yourself, you can like Facebook’s Security Page. This provides you with ongoing information about safety and security on Facebook.