Facebook Basics - Reporting Abuse

Facebook Logo With more than 650 million users worldwide, Facebook is the world's favorite online activity. The more you know about how it works, the safer you will be while you connect with friends, interesting people and family. (WiredSafety is one of five charities worldwide comprising Facebook's International Safety Advisory Board.) This week, we'll show you how to report abuse to Facebook when things go wrong.

Reporting Abuse on Facebook

With more than 650 million users all over the world connecting 24/7, sometimes things go wrong on Facebook. It is one of the largest nations in the world, and like all nations has good people, bad people and careless people. You can connect with current and long-lost friends. You can promote your cause or support someone else's. You can publicize good things and expose bad things. You can help others. You can hang out with family and experience new cultures. That's the good side

But what can go wrong? People guess, hack and abuse passwords, takeover the profiles of others, post and share mean comments and images. They attack each other, threaten each other and get into trouble. Sometimes they pose as others, harass others and fall for scams. They lie, steal and they hate.

Luckily, Facebook takes safety and security very seriously. They have a team of dedicated abuse management personnel and special technology designed to manage risks. They have ways to help you help yourself, protect your privacy and security and get help when you need it.

Before you report a Facebook problem to us here at WiredSafety, report it to Facebook using their report abuse system. WiredSafety's Facebook report abuse tutorials are posted on our StopCyberbullying.org site. Click here to learn where and how to report abuse on Facebook. And please remember to keep your explanation simple. A vast majority of abuses are incorrectly reported to Facebook. With so many users, it's important that you help Facebook help you better.

Friending and Unfriending on Facebook

This article deals with "friending" others on Facebook. How do you choose them? What should you think about when accepting friend requests? What can you do when you no longer want to be "friends" on Facebook?

We counted our popularity from the time we entered kindergarten by the number of firends we have. The more the merrier. And sometimes Facebook users think that having lots of "friends" means they are more popular online, and everyone will know it. But there is a big difference between offline friends and online friends. While you can have a very close friendship, and even romance, with someone you only know online, you need to make sure that you really "know" who your friends are. Don't make it a popularity contest. That's so middle school! Be selective with your online friends. Make sure that they aren't posing as someone else you know in real life.

"I'm leaving the back door open for you. Just let yourself in!"

Think of "friends" as people you would leave your backdoor open for. We usually reserve that for our closest and most trustworthy friends. Choose your "friends" in the same way. Once you select "friends only" settings, you know that only your real friends can see what you post, post on your wall or have access to your images. (Remember that if you select settings with "friends of friends" anyone you trust with your open back door can have any of their freinds, whether you know them or not, or trust them or not, drop by and let themselves in.

Think B4U Friend!

If they can find you, people will ask to friend you. They may be long lost relatives, former classmates or neighbors, ex-spouses or significant others, people you have lost track of, co-workers, bosses and people trying to sell you things. Give it serious thought before you friend anyone. They will see your most private images, communications and what other friends post on your wall.

"I don't wan to hurt anyone's feelings"

Faceook thought about this a few years ago when they added a feature that allows you to ignore a friend request, instead of having to choose between "accept" and "deny." Not sure? Just give it a little time. Don't want to hurt their feelings? Ignore them, instead of rejecting them. They may think you are busy, not turning their friend request down.

Don't Fall For "Remeber me?"

Sometimes you recognize the person making the friend request and sometimes you don't. Too many people click "accept" when someone asks to friend them just so they won't hurt their feelings. Or because they aren't sure if they know them or not. Facebook has a feature that allows the person making the friend request to tell you how they know you. If you aren't sure you remember them, ask for more details. If they won't provide anything better than "we have friends in common" keep probing to deny the friend request.

"We have friends in common"

In real life our friends are a little careless and clueless or very responsible. They follow all the rules or break them. They have good or poor judgment and are immature or very mature. That's the nature of friends. Online, they are the same. Some will carefully screen their friends, insist that they know them in real life and confirm offline that the person they are friending really is their neighbor, cousin or co-worker. You can trust friends of these friends most of the time. The other friends, who are indiscriminate in making friends online and offline, might be too risky to allow "friends" of "these friends" to access your private profile and your personal information. Also, creeps and marketing types often try to get friended by one of your friends just to get onto your friends of friends list. Choose your own friends carefully.

you are Judged by The Company You Keep

Facebook runs on one basic rule - everyone is a real person. One profile and identity per person. It came from the days when Facebook was a university network and to join you needed a university email address that could be traced back to your real identity. Your grandmother, kids, former, current or future spouse, boss, subordinates, neighbors, pastors, priests, rabbis, gurus or mullahs, local police and banker may all be able to see your profile, your friends and your Wall (depending on your privacy settings). How will the random friends you added reflect on you? (There are other ways around this, by selecting special privacy settings on an item by item basis, but that can become tricky and you may get it wrong.)

"You're cute"

Maybe you are. Maybe you're not. But any friend request that starts this way is probably a scam, a marketing scheme, a porn pitch or a creep. Think of a friend request as a pickup line. If someone came up to you on the street and said this to you, would you rush away as fast as you can or strike up a conversation? You can check out the person's profile before accepting them as a friend. It's good to check them out first. Don't just see if you have friends in common, see which friends you have in common.

When you are no longer "friends"

When you decide to remove someone from your "friends" list you have two choices - you can "unfriend" them, or if you are having problems with them, you can "block" them. It's important that you understand the difference, since when you "unfriend" someone they can ask to be "friended" again as early as a week or so after you removed them as a friend. If you block them, they can't ask to be friended again. You can make them a friend on your own, if you want to, but they can't ask.