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Facebooks use of personal data concerns FTC consumers

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NEW YORK (5/24/10)--The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is examining how social networks like Facebook use personal data from user profiles. The FTC has received complaints from privacy groups concerned about how Facebook displays user information (Online.WSJ.com May 19). Users of the popular social media website are becoming increasingly concerned about personal information security thanks to recent developments, including privacy bugs, changes to profile privacy settings and the increased connectivity between Facebook profiles and other sites across the Web (CNN.com May 13). Consumers with Facebook profiles can prevent their personal information from getting into the wrong hands. Here are five ideas from ConsumerReports.org to help Facebook users protect their privacy:
* Learn privacy controls. Visit the Facebook “guide to privacy” page to learn the different settings and how to alter them for your profile. You’ll also find information about recent privacy feature changes and updates. * Block search engines. Uncheck the public search option located in your Facebook profile privacy settings. This prevents potential criminals from using Web search engines to find your profile. * Use a unique password. A password unique to your Facebook profile, containing at least eight characters, will help protect your personal information. A strong password combines symbols and numbers between upper- and lower-case letters of a word. For example a variation of a password with the word “tree”: t1R9e8e! * Hide your birth date. Prevent those you don’t know from learning your birthday and birth year. Thieves can use this to gather and misuse sensitive information, including financial details. * Omit contact info. Withhold your address, phone numbers, and any e-mail addresses linked to financial accounts from your Facebook profile. Crooks can use that information to steal your identity. Don’t worry; friends will be able to contact you through messages on Facebook.