My No1 tip for safety on Facebook from scammers or not so nice “Friends” is to hide your Facebook Friend List.
Why Hide Your Friends List?
If your Facebook friends list is public you will be more of a target for scammers, and so will your friends. The most common scam, that has been around for years, is when a scammer copies and impersonates your Facebook profile, and pretends to be you, and than asks all your friends to re-friend you because you are shutting down your previous profile. Once the scammer has re-friended your friends to the fake profile, they will try to lure them into clicking a link either in a message, or on a post to your wall. The most common scam is often in relation to a competition where they exitedly claim they won a ton of money.
The other thing that can happen with an open friends list, is that if you allow even your friends to see your friends list, you risk the scam spreading further, you may risk your family and friends being approached by someone they don’t know. I have also heard of “Friends” stealing friends, very creepy I know. I also know of some cases where people accepted a Facebook friend request from someone, only to have their friends list “harvested” for potential clients or network connections.
Very Important For Teens!
This is a very important setting for teens, not just to protect them from scams but also to protect them from bullying, blackmail and predatory behaviour. Bullying via fake accounts is the No1 way teens bully each other, and it spreads via open Friends Lists. If your child is being blackmailed or bullied online, a friends list that is open to the bully is very dangerous, they can send your child’s friends nasty messages about your child or photos of your child that have been doctored. Predators also can target groups of teens through open friends lists, and can blackmail kids into doing dangerous things, by threatening to post things to the child’s friends list if they have access to it.
Friends Trust Each Other
Introducing yourself on Facebook to someone as a “Friend of a Friend” engenders trust, and this is how scams, blackmail and dodgy deals are spread on Facebook.
The other most basic privacy issue is simply that you probably don’t really want the entire world knowing who your family and friends are. It’s as bad as just leaving your address book open for all to see and copy.
Update 2017: Facebook have now included the “Hide Your Friends List” in the privacy settings
Protect your friends and yourself by setting this very simple setting. See the video below for instructions. (P.C Browser setting only – this setting is not available on the mobile app as far as I can tell)
See More Privacy Settings Step By Steps in my Cyber Safety Manual, See Ad below.