Social Networking Safety Tips

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Social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn have become extremely popular in recent years, both with kids and adults. They're a great way to keep family and friends updated on your life, but you should be wary about how much personal information you post. Follow these tips to enjoy your social networking site safely:

Privacy and security settings exist for a reason:
Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.
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Once posted, always posted:
Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn't want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research found that 70% of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.
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Your online reputation can be a good thing:
Recent research found that recruiters respond to a strong, positive personal brand online. So show your smarts, thoughtfulness, and mastery of the environment.
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Keep personal info personal:
Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes, such as stalking.
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Protect your hardware:
Safety and security start with protecting computers. Install a security suite (antivirus, antispyware, and firewall) that is set to update automatically. Keep your operating system, Web browser, and other software current as well, and back up computer files on a regular basis.
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Know and manage your friends:
Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn't mean all friends are created equal. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups. If you're trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a "fan" page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know trust) more synched up with your daily life.
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Be honest if you're uncomfortable:
If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, let them know. Likewise, stay open-minded if a friend approaches you because something you've posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them respect those differences. Post only about others as you would have them post about you.
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Know what action to take
If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site administrator. 
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Use strong passwords
Make sure that your password is long, complex and combines, letters, numerals, and symbols. Ideally, you should use a different password for every online account you have. If you need to write down your password to remember it, store it somewhere away from your computer.
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Be cautious about messages you receive on social networking sites that contain links.
Even links that look they come from friends can sometimes contain malware or be part of a phishing attack (attempts to collect personal information: logon and password and other indentifying information by pretending to be a message form a friend or a business). If you are suspicious, don't click contact your friend or the business directly to verify the validity.
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