Somebody doesn’t have to look intelligent or worldly to steal your personal information or your Facebook account. They just have to be bored enough with making money the old-fashioned way to want to annoy you. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself and make their job a little more difficult, thereby annoying them.

Okay, you know what? Since we’re on the subject of annoying people, here’s an idea that’ll not only help annoy identify thieves, but also Time Magazine’s Personal Information Seller…sorry Man of the Year, Mark Zuckerberg; just don’t use Facebook. We’ve actually just solved the whole problem right there. That’s not going to happen, though, right? Fine. Let’s move on.

Rather than use your main e-mail account, set up a separate one, maybe gmail so you can have any updates from Facebook forwarded on to your regular e-mail account from the gmail account. Should someone get into your gmail, they won’t be able to access your actual main one. It’s also wise to use very different passwords on each e-mail account, plus a separate one for Facebook. Why make it easy for someone, right? One final thought on this; don’t list your e-mail address on your page. If somebody wants to get a hold of you, they can send you a message using Facebook.

Some folks also suggest you not put your date of birth on your Facebook page since your closest friends will know it’s your birthday. I disagree. Not only do some of us appreciate the extra attention, but have you seen our economy? Giving your friends an out to say they “forgot”—convenient of them, I might add—is not an acceptable excuse to not treat you to a dinner or certificate to Best Buy. Besides, if somebody wants to know your date of birth, they’ll find out. Maybe don’t put your year and then lie like hell when somebody guesses. That usually works.

Keep up with the ever-changing privacy settings that Facebook introduces, often without making the effort to really let us know what they’re doing. If you don’t, your personal information could be sold to third parties without your actual consent—apparently not saying “no” means “yes” in Zuckerworld. If they’re not going to give you a cut of the profits, why allow them to use it?

Finally, unfortunately, you have to use your actual name when creating your account, only you don’t have to display your personal information for people who aren’t your friends to see. If you do use a pseudonym and the Zuckerlemmings find out, your account will be deactivated.

So, protect yourself by limiting the information folks see, use a separate e-mail account, use different passwords, avoid telling people the year you were really born and keep up with all the posts the other folks who keep an eye on Facebook’s privacy policies—obviously written on a dry-erase board—since they’ll keep you in the loop.

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