This is my checklist when I create online social networking accounts:
- Check the site’s ability to show or hide profile information. If it exposes too much, it would be best that you don’t fill up every field in your profile. The less you share online as public information, the better you secure your identity.
- DO NOT automatically share home addresses, phone numbers, mobile numbers, e-mail addresses and IM IDs/names to everyone; share only to friends.
- DO NOT automatically share your birthdate and anniversary date to everyone; share only to friends. Consider this: you may need to secure your birth date which is sometimes used to verify your identity in phone and online banking transactions.
- DO NOT automatically share family relationships to everyone; share only to friends (and connections). Consider this: you may need to secure your mother’s maiden name which is sometimes used to verify your identity in phone and online banking transactions.
- DO NOT automatically share photos and videos to everyone; share only to friends (and connections). Some media are really not meant to be shared in the public domain. First and foremost, treat your original media as your copyright materials; all rights reserved!
- DO NOT trust the site to "remember", save or store your bank savings, checking, debit and credit card numbers. Consider entering these numbers only when making actual transactions (and make sure that you don’t let the site "remember", save or store the number). I assure you, the hassle of entering that number every time is worth the security you get in return.
- NEVER share your TIN and SSN (SSS number) online. Like your bank and insurance policy account numbers, these are definitely NOT public information.
In using the social networking site:
- Be in control! Identify what to share with specific people, friends, connections and everyone. Rule of thumb: if the post is too personal, then keep it private. Remember that in social networking sites, "everyone" can mean the whole world! Don’t publicly share what you can keep within your personal circle.
- Some posts (messages, photos, videos, links, etc.) may affect other people’s online preference. Respect other people’s privacy. If you are not sure, ask the person’s permission first. This is especially true when you intend to share the material publicly or to more than just your friends (and connections).
- Never share full details about your household’s weekend and vacation plans. Not everyone needs to know that you are "temporarily abandoning" your house. Besides, surprising your friends (and connections) with news about your trips would be more exciting to talk about. If you really have to share your plans, share them only with friends.
- Make sure that you know who you are adding in to your network. If you have doubts, don’t! This is very important. You should be able to trust the people in your network. Come to think of it, adding people to your network actually gives them access to the materials that you post or share online.
- Private messages, IM’s and e-mails still work. Remember that you can still use them to communicate with friends.
- Phone calls and post mail letters still work. Remember that you can still use them to communicate with friends.
- Of course, nothing beats personally meeting your friends — keep what you have to say or share until you meet them in person. This works, too… 100%!