With the advent of the social network, more and more of our lives and consequently our identities, are finding their way to the net. Names, interests, social relationships, birth-dates, and sometimes even financial information. All very valuable information for the right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) person. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that some people will go to great lengths to acquire such information.

Identity thieves and scammers aren’t the only things to worry about on Facebook either. The personal yet public nature of the site means that it’s stunningly easy for exactly the wrong sort of person to find and track you down. I am talking, of course, about Facebook stalkers. Try not to laugh and instead consider the fact that at this very moment, there could be someone obsessing over your profile, and trying desperately to find out where you live to get better ‘acquainted’ with you.

Now that you’re good and creeped out by that lovely hypothetical scenario, let’s begin, shall we?

Understand Your Privacy Settings

First things first, click the little arrow on the upper right hand corner of your Facebook. A menu should appear with several items on it. You’re going to want to click on “Privacy Settings.”  You’ll be taken to a page where you can customize everything about your privacy (except perhaps, from Facebook itself).

“How You Connect” deals with how people locate you and communicate with you. Basically, it’s how easy you are to find in a search. If you don’t like the idea of people searching out your profile, crank up all the settings in this section to max.

“How Tags Work” concerns what happens when you’re tagged in a status, note, or picture. How much of your profile do you want to be visible to friends of friends as a result of a tag? Do you want people on your friends list to be able to just randomly tag you, or would you prefer to approve each one? This is more personal preference than anything.

“App Settings” is something we’ll talk about below- it’s large enough that it merits its own section.

“Limit Past Posts” is a side-effect of Facebook’s attempts to imitate Google +. It lets you retroactively restrict access to posts that you once made available to the general public.

“Blocked People and Apps” is basically your blocklist. You don’t need to go here to block someone, generally.

Regulate Your Applications

Aside from privacy settings, this is probably the most important step you should take in keeping your private information…well, private. Keep an eye out for ‘spammy’ apps. If you receive an invite to sign up for an app from a friend who wouldn’t ordinarily post something like that…report the app, as it’s probably making posts to other people’s Facebook pages without the original user’s consent. That’s a sure sign that an app is bad news.

Read what people are saying in the user reviews. Do your homework before you install an app, or you will sorely regret it.

Oh, and one more thing. I honestly shouldn’t have to say this, but some people just don’t want to believe it. There is no Facebook Pageview Checker. It is against Facebook’s privacy policy, therefore any application which purports to let you see who’s viewed your page is 90% likely to be a scam.

You can see a list of your currently installed and active apps under your “Privacy Settings.” This is also where you’ll need to go if you want to uninstall an unruly application. Simply go to the page, view a list of your currently installed apps, and click on the x next to the app you want to deepsix.

You can also, to some degree, edit the permissions of your installed apps. Most of them however, ‘require’ all the permissions they’re granted, so unless you uninstall them, you’re stuck with their settings. There’s also a setting that changes “what information people can bring with them” about you when they use other apps. Basically, from what I’ve been able to glean…it lets apps you’ve got installed share your information with people using said apps.  It’s supposedly for people using apps related to things like music, so they can see you’ve got similar interests, but…

The whole thing just seems a little bit creepy, doesn’t it?

If you don’t like the idea of apps sharing all your personal info, disable all of those. Near as I can tell, it won’t have any adverse effect on the platform apps (third party apps) themselves.

So, yeah. Facebook Apps, don’t be stupid, you get the idea.

Watch Out For Phishing Sites And Scams

Be careful what you click. If a link looks suspicious, don’t access it. If a video asks you a question or opens a dialogue box (or links to a third party site), close the window immediately. Basically, use common sense, don’t click strange links, don’t take candy from strange men…

You get the idea.