In the wake of news that the personal information of 50 million Facebook users may have been harvested without their knowledge, Better Business Bureau (BBB) is encouraging users to check their privacy settings for the world’s most popular social media website.

In the wake of news that the personal information of 50 million Facebook users may have been harvested without their knowledge, Better Business Bureau (BBB) is encouraging users to check their privacy settings for the world’s most popular social media website.

“When you are on Facebook, you are the product,” said Michelle Gleba, BBB Columbia Regional Director. “Facebook is a great place to connect with people, but you need to be wary of the information you post and what permissions you give others to see what you share. There are unscrupulous people who try to use Facebook and other social media as a way to get to your personal information. Knowing how your personal information is used can make you a savvier consumer.”

One way for third parties to access your personal data is through the use of applications. Third-party software companies often develop apps like quizzes or games. In order to use these apps, the apps ask you to connect your Facebook account to them, revealing some of the personal data stored in your account. Review what kind of information you are sharing with those third-party apps. This can be done by going to the Settings tab on Facebook and clicking on the Apps link.

Carefully consider what information you want to have shared. What does the business that made the app say about how they will use your data? If you do not use the app any longer or don’t believe the app needs to have access to your Facebook account, you can remove the app from having access to your account.

The more access you give to third-party applications, the more you expose your personal information.

Be careful what you share in posts. It might seem like a fun exercise to share your maiden name, how many children you have and their birthdates and other information about yourself as part of a Facebook challenge. However, that sensitive information can be easily mined by people if you don’t have tight privacy settings.

BBB offers the following tips for protecting your social media accounts:

• Lock it down. When you sign up with a social media platform, the privacy settings usually are not set up to the most stringent level. Check over those settings so that you are only sharing with people who you want to see the information.

• Know your friends. Only accept friend request from people you know. The more friends you add to your network, the more people have access to your information.

• Don’t overshare. Avoid sharing information like your email, phone number and address. You should never post financial information or your Social Security Number.

• Keep your location to yourself. Be careful about posting where you are and what you’re doing. Posting that you are going to be on vacation could be an invitation for someone to burglarize your residence. Share details about your trip after it is over. Also consider disabling location services on social media platforms and any apps that could be connected through them.

About BBB

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information.