14 things you should try NOT to do on Facebook and similar Social Networking Sites

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Now that the British Royal Family is on Facebook (’The British Monarchy’), I thought it would be opportune to reinforce and expand on some pretty decent Facebook guidelines which appeared in a recent Sun article.

It’s kind of an ironic fail that the British Royal Family is trying to look current and in touch with the ’common people’, when really this exercise just reinforces how distant the Royal Family is from the reality of social networking and the public of this nation. It actually reinforces the upstairs / downstairs class divide, as you cannot be friends with individual family members, but only a shielded PR representation of the Royal Family. There is no reason their PRs could not have used individual characters and done much the same job of publishing pictures of meet-and-greet events. As it is, you cannot really be Facebook friends with the Royals at all - they have no real input in this - this is really just another Royal Follie.

Anyway, most of you will be familar with the dangers of publishing too much personal data online, I just checked and updated my Facebook profile recently and removed my year of birth; otherwise I was in full compliance with the following advice:

Don’t ever give your full Date and Place of Birth - these are the basic essentials required for identity fraud

Don’t use your full name - if you are blessed with one or more middle names, keep these to yourself - this will protect your identity, use forename and surname only, in some cases a nickname or pseudonym might even be appropriate

Don’t ever refer to your mother’s maiden name - most UK banks use the mother’s maiden name as one of the security questions to gain access to a personal account

Never disclose your full current address - if you live in a big city like London, it’s OK to have ’Current City’ listed as London - with 12 million souls, you will be relatively difficult to pick out and target, if you come from a small town, I would name the nearest large city, as people will be less able to trace your name easily - minimise collateral damage by referencing a larger population centre

Don’t broadcast holidays or away days - never say when you are going to be away from your home - you might as well post a ’burgle me’ placard on your front / back door

Don’t blog / post location details - try not to give away your exact current whereabouts, certain unscrupulous individuals can abuse this information - for this reason, I typically report on events retrospectively

Never post identifiable pictures of your house / street - following a recent documentary where her new house was featured prominently - Tulisa from N-Dubz had a break-in where everything of value was taken - never make it easy for people to figure out where you live

Never say too much - little details make you more identifable - try to keep things fairly matter-of-fact, also don’t mention expensive or desirable possessions, as these will make you and your home more attractive to thieves

Never expose family members - don’t talk about family members by name - particularly not your kids - refer to them as ’the wife’, ’daughter’, ’youngest son’ etc. Also try to refrain from mentioning identifiable events such as big birthdays

Don’t expose yourself! - you must refrain from broadcasting inappropriate language and activities, many employers now use Facebook pages as employee references. Don’t use Facebook to broadcast your soul or current feelings - something like an official blog with a pseudonym (e.g. Perez Hilton) is the perfect vehicle for edgy commentary and cutting opinions and criticisms

Never post dodgy pictures of yourself - you will put off prospective employers and partners, and once the pictures are out there, other people will have made copies, and they might be used irreverently somewhere else and at another time

Never give away your full contact details - keep personal emails and phone numbers to yourself - you can pass them out individually to close friends and acquaintances - any published details will soon be misappropriated and will lead to a deluge of unwanted email spam and spam sms text messages or worse

Never post / display a full personal public profile - it is quite alright to post work details and addresses, but keep identifiable personal / domestic details to a minimum

Don’t use 3rd party apps which ask to share location and profile details - too many of these are Trojans, and too many are easily open to abuse - try to stay clear of these

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