With all the news about Facebook and its serious privacy issues, are you starting to feel alarmed by the amount of information you may be unintentionally exposing? You’re not alone.
With its birthdays, events, locations, photo albums, and friend lists, Facebook is one of the worst social media sites when it comes to holding huge amounts of your personal data. It’s the first port of call for anyone looking to find out more about you, whether that’s friends, family, colleagues, or — in the worst case — hackers.
One way to safeguard your privacy is to permanently delete your Facebook account. However, if you rely on it — as so many of us do — to stay in touch with the people in your life, that’s not always an option. So here’s your best alternative: take the safety measures we recommend here to secure your Facebook account and make sure that your sensitive information isn’t being compromised.
1. General Account Settings
Your profile tells a story to the one who’s viewing it, so you can choose how you can want to appear online. From there you’ll be able to manage and edit the basics information about you like name, surname, email address, or choose your legal contact settings.
You can inform Facebook in advance whether you’d like to have your account memorialized after you’ve passed away or permanently deleted from Facebook.
You can also download a copy of your Facebook data. This includes your Timeline info, shared posts, messages, photos, ads you have clicked on, the IP addresses where you’ve logged into your account, and more other details.
2. Security Settings
We continue to the Security and Login Settings.
From here you’re able to set:
Choose friends to contact if you get locked out
Facebook recommends this feature for its users in case they are locked out of their account. From this place, you can select your close friends that will help you in case you ever have trouble accessing your Facebook account.The option lets users nominate 3 to 5 trusted contacts.
By clicking on Choose friends you will receive instructions to follow. After you have selected your friends, they’ll be able to send you a recovery code with a special URL you can use to get back into your account. You can always change or edit the chosen friends. Find out more info here.
Where you are logged in
This feature provides details about your current location and what browser used. Facebook also tracks your previous sessions offering the following information: logging time, device, address, and IP.
Here you have the option to Change your current password. We highly recommend setting a strong and unique password.
Strong: so that nobody with malicious intentions will be able to guess it. That means no easy and common passwords, no family names, no nicknames, no birth dates, no favorite songs or movies or mottos, no nothing that can easily be found out about you.
Unique: because if one of your accounts is breached, all your other accounts where you used the same password will end up compromised. It doesn’t even have to be your fault.
You might have heard that about 1.9 billion data records were exposed in breaches in the first half of 2017, according to the Breach Level Index.
Setting up extra security
To enhance protection, we suggest using the following extra layers of protection. First off, you can enable to receive notifications via email if anyone logs in from a device or browser you don’t usually use. If it doesn’t recognize your usual login, an alert will be sent to your email.
Use two-factor authentication
By activating this option, the network will require you to authenticate with a second security code every time you’ll want to access your account on a new browser or device. Read our dedicated article on why you should use two-factor authentication feature.
You have 7 options:
- Turn on two-factor authentication;
- A security code sent by SMS to your mobile device;
- Security keys for safer logins;
- Generate a security code using Code Generator from your Facebook mobile app;
- Recovery codes when you don’t have your phone with you;
- App passwords you can use instead of your Facebook account password;
- Authorized logins.
3. Privacy Settings
The next section is the Privacy Settings and Tools one. From here you’ll be able to tweak basic privacy settings and make sure that your past and future posts won’t be seen by intruders.
Who can see my stuff?
From here you can control the privacy of future posts. Select the appropriate audience for your future posts, you can share them with:
- Public (if you want everybody to see them)
- Friends with Acquaintances
- Only Me
- Custom Audience (if you use Friends Lists)
It is recommended that you set the default sharing option to Friends. Unless you manually change it, Facebook will remember this option and post all your future statuses as only available to your Friends.
From the same location, you can also review your activity by using the Activity Log.
Keep in mind that even if you choose to hide a post or photo from your Timeline, the post or photo will still be uploaded online. From there on, you can either choose to Remove Tag or even Request the post to be deleted.
And one last feature available in this section: “Limit the Audience for Old Posts on Your Timeline” – guess this is pretty much self-explanatory, right? By using this tool, all the audience for the content from your timeline will be changed.
Who can contact me?
From here you can choose who’s able to send you friend requests.
If you want to be added as a friend by anyone in the world, even if you don’t have any connections in common, you need to set this option to everyone.
Who can look me up?
In this place, you can choose if you want people to find you using your email address or phone number.
From here you can also select if you want search engines, such as Google or Bing, to index your profile and link to it. If you deactivate this setting, your profile will be found only by people searching for your name directly on Facebook.
4. Timeline and Tagging Settings
Next in line: Timeline and Tagging Settings. This place allows you to set other privacy settings, such as who can post to your timeline, timeline visibility, and tagging.
We’ll take each separately.
Who can add things to my timeline?
This one is pretty straightforward. You can choose who can post on your timeline – if you also hate birthday wishes from unknown people who choose to post on your timeline, select “Only Me” instead of “Friends”.
From here you can also choose to review the posts you were tagged in by your friends before they appear on your timeline. Enable this option to keep spam or untrusted posts away.
Don’t forget that these posts will remain online and still appear in Facebook’s search or news feed. You’ll have to manually remove each tag or even ask the friends who uploaded them to delete them.
Who can see things on my timeline?
This option will help you review what other people see when they look at your profile.
From here you’ll be able to see how your Timeline looks like to the public (to users who aren’t connected to you in any way), to your Friends or even to a specific person.
You can use this last feature in case you ever choose to hide a post from specific people and you want to see how it looks like when they look at your profile.
Before you post something on the timeline, you can choose to share the post with a Custom Audience (a specific list of Friends), specific Friends (if you want to manually add their names) or NOT share it with specific Friends (anyone you include here won’t be able to see that post unless you tag them).
From here you can also select who can see posts you’ve been tagged in on your timeline and who can see what others post on your timeline.
How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions?
If you activate the option to “Review tags people add to your own posts before they appear on Facebook”, you’ll be able to check and approve those tags. Thus, when someone adds a tag to one of your posts, you’ll be asked to review it before they appear on Facebook.
This is an option for tags added by friends. If someone who’s not your Facebook friend will add a tag to one of your posts, you’ll always be asked to review it.
Another setting from here: when you’re tagged in a post, who do you want to add to the audience if they aren’t already in it? Choose “Friends” if you want them to see the post you were tagged in, “Only Me” if you don’t want your friends to see it, or you can create a custom audience.
From the Blocking tab, you can restrict the way in which other Facebook users, apps or pages interact with you.
Here’s what exactly you can set from here:
This option is probably extremely popular among kids who don’t want their parents to see what they post, but they still want them to be friends on Facebook.
Here’s how it works: if you want to restrict a friend from seeing anything that you post, you add them to this list. They’ll still be able to see your public posts, those where you are both tagged in or where a mutual friend was tagged in, but that’s it.
Facebook won’t notify them when you add them to this list, so they won’t know.
Block users, messages, the app invites, event invites
In case you want to get rid of annoying users, games or events, this is the place to go.
From here you’ll be able to:
- Block users that you don’t want them to see your Facebook profile, add you as a friend, see what you comment on other profiles or pages or send you any kind of invitations (events or groups).
- Block someone from sending you messages and video calls. Yes, this one’s separate from the first option. Unless you also block their profile, they’ll still be able to post on your Timeline, tag you, and comment on your posts.
- Block a page – they won’t be able to interact with you anymore, with your posts or like or reply to your comments. If you currently like that page, by blocking it you will unlike it and unfollow it.
- Block any other kinds of app invites from someone.
Block event invites from someone – this way, you’ll automatically ignore future event requests from that friend. Use this for those PR people from your list, who try to exploit you by sending you all kind of irrelevant event invites.
From the Mobile section, you can enter your mobile phone number (or numbers). You’ll use it when you activate your login credentials and need to receive the unique code for the second-factor authentication.
Here’s also the place where you can activate text messaging from. Facebook Texts are not currently supported by all countries or mobile service providers, but you’ll have a list here.
This one is among the most important privacy settings for your Facebook account.
The Apps section shows you what third-party apps you connected in the past, such as:
- Other social media apps (Instagram, for example);
- Other social media websites (Medium, for example);
- Any other kind of apps or websites where you connected to your Facebook account.
Keep in mind that all these external apps can access all the tons of data collected by Facebook about us.
Review what permissions you gave to each of those apps and if they are allowed to post on Facebook on your behalf (and to what audience).
Decline any kind of intrusive apps and permissions allowed in the past. Disconnect any apps that you don’t remember giving them access or you don’t use anymore. All those are potential vulnerabilities to your security and privacy