COLUMN: You’d be surprised how much information people can glean from your social media accounts

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This column may make scary reading but if you’ve ever had problems with someone taking too keen an interest in your social media – a jealous ex, former friends, a boss or that creepy friend who comments on every post and, of course, if your children have profiles – then you’d be surprised how much information people can glean from them, no matter how secure you think they are.

With Facebook you can make lots of content private or so that it can be seen by friends only.

Simply select ‘friends only’ on your post itself or in ‘settings’.

You can also set your ‘friends list’ as private and, of course, don’t accept any requests from people you don’t know.

If you go on ‘timeline and tagging’ settings, you can set them so you have to review posts you’re tagged in first so you can reject embarrassing posts.

It also saves you being tagged when someone’s profile is hacked so you won’t be sharing fake Ray Bans or porn clips on your profile.

You can also prevent people tagging someone else in your photos.

If you go into your privacy settings, you will see two boxes – one asking who you would like to be able to contact you by your phone number and one by the email address you used when setting up Facebook.

Make sure that both are set to ‘friends only’ and neither ‘friends of friends’ or ‘everyone’. On the same page, there is a box asking if you would like search engines (Google etc) to link to your profile. Click ‘no’.

Remember, your cover photo is always publicly viewable – anyone can click on it even if everything else is private.

Your profile photo is editable for privacy – other people will still see it if you make it ‘friends only’ but they cannot enlarge it.

And here is something many don’t realise.

If someone is trying to find out more about you, clicking on your profile or cover photo – or indeed any public photo – will tell them who ‘liked’ and commented on it.

That enables them to build a picture.

If, for example, several people ‘liked’ your profile photo and then the person nosing clicks on their profiles and some have the same workplace or geographical area as you, it is reasonable to assume that they are your nearby friends or work colleagues.

It is terrifying to think that many children’s profiles list their school.

And here I should mention Instagram, which seems to be most popular with kids.

There’s no reason at all that a child’s Instagram should be public.

Set it to private.

I often have to chase debts and can take nine out of ten Facebook profiles and within half an hour tell you lots about that individual.

If this column helps just one person, it’s been worthwhile.