On the heels of the latest Facebook data breach and of course, the notorious Cambridge Analytica scandal, everyone is scrambling to secure their online profiles. Although Facebook is not the poster child for keeping your data secure, the platform does include a lot of great features to suture up your information and keep it away from prying eyes. Here is your complete guide to Facebook’s privacy and security settings.
Facebook’s privacy settings are deeply layered, so you may be intimidated to dig in, and not quite sure where to start. Fear not! Facebook has a quick guided tool called the “Privacy Checkup,” which addresses the most critical settings. To access this feature on any Facebook page, click the question mark at the top right and choose Privacy Checkup. A pop-up window will open that guides you through your settings for things like posts, profile and apps, and websites. The guide will walk you through some basic settings, but you should explore the rest of the security items to be sure they are set the way you want them.
FaceBook Security Settings
The first thing you need to do is secure your Facebook account. There are quite a few settings in this area, so let’s get started on optimizing your facebook security settings.
Click the down arrow in the top-right of any Facebook page.
Turn on two-factor authentication by going to Settings > Security and Login > Use two-factor authentication > Get Started.
Two-factor authentication will send you a text or email when you log in from an unfamiliar location or device. It helps to keep the hackers at bay.
You should also change your Facebook password often (monthly at least) to keep it safe and hard to hack. To do this, go to Settings > Security and login > Change password. All set there!
When you go to Settings > Security and Login (from the left sidebar), you will notice a whole page of options. At the top, Facebook allows you to nominate 3-5 friends who can help you log back in if you forget your password and get locked out. This feature is optional.
Where You’re Logged In
Next, it shows where you are currently logged in and on what device. This snapshot is helpful, especially if you notice a login from a location or device that you don’t own. It could indicate your account has been hacked.
Below is the log in section. You can change your password, which we just did. You can also specify which browsers and devices can save your login. Otherwise, you will be forced to put in the username and password each time.
Setting Up Extra Security
In this section, you can turn on alerts, and Facebook will email you when your account is used in a different location or device than what it is used to. Here you can also choose the friends to reconnect you if you get locked out. Facebook recommends using this feature.
Advanced Security Settings
In the advanced security settings area, you have the option of encrypting all your Facebook emails so that no one else can read them. You may also recover access to other websites that you logged onto with Facebook. This section has an area where you can review recent security emails sent to you by Facebook.
FaceBook Privacy Settings
Now that you have secured your account let’s dig into facebook privacy settings. The first item here is who can see your future posts. You can set that to Friends, the general Public or friends, but block some friends from seeing your stuff. You can also set posts to Only Me if you want them to be visible to you only.
Additionally, you can view any posts in which you were tagged and review all your previous posts. The last setting at the top section allows you to limit who can see your previous posts. This setting will change old posts from “Public” or “Friends of Friends” to just “Friends” viability. It is done with one click of a button.
Now let’s get granular into the details of who can find you, contact you, and see your friends list.
Who can send you friend requests? Set to either Everyone or Friends of Friends.
Who can see your friends list? Set to Public, Friends, All Friends Except (blocked), Select Friends, Only Me, or a custom choice.
Who can look you up using the email address you provided? Set to Everyone, Friend of Friends, Friends, or Only Me.
Who can look you up using the phone number you provided? Set to Everyone, Friend of Friends, Friends, or Only Me.
The final question in there is Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile? This is an interesting one. When you search Google for a person often, the first stuff that comes up is their Facebook profile. It’s a personal decision whether or not you want Google and other platforms to access your profile and display it in search results. You choose “yes” by checking off the box; if you leave it unchecked, it will be set to “no.”
Apps are the elephant in the room that got Cambridge Analytica in trouble. Facebook allows third-party developers to create apps that request access to your information. Now, how much and how deeply they probe into that data can be unclear. Sometimes it’s just easier to log in to new websites or apps using your Facebook login, but what you don’t realize is now you have given the app at least some permission to dig into your data. Convenience sometimes comes at a price.
Therefore, you will want to pay close attention to how much you allow apps to access your profile and Facebook account. It’s an excellent habit to regularly evaluate what apps have access and how much. You can remove them at any time by using the down arrow at the top-right of your Facebook page and choosing Settings > Apps and Websites > Active. Check off the box next to the app’s name and choose Remove.
However, keep in mind even if you do delete the app from your Facebook account, they may have already gathered and copied profile information and stored it on their own server. You are never entirely protected when allowing third-party apps to access your information.
Control Who Sees Your Posts
Although you have a general setting about posts and their visibility, when you post something new to Facebook, you can change that setting on the fly. However, be warned that Facebook remembers what your last setting is and will use that for future posts as well. You have good reasons not to allow all your connected buddies access to every post you put on Facebook. Many troubled Facebook users have been fired due to something they posted on their personal timeline that a boss or co-worker saw. Your options for visibility with each post are:
Public - just what it sounds like the public (meaning people you do not know and are not friends with) can see and comment on your posts. It might be a dangerous setting for most people except Hollywood stars and other public figures.
Friends - all your connected friends will have full visibility and be able to comment.
Specific Friends - is a terrific setting so you can filter who sees what. You may not want to offend specific friends or family members with off-color posts or jokes, and this comes in handy for that.
Only You - although this one may seem odd, why post something no one can see? Facebook likes to keep your options open so you can use Facebook as a personal memento diary.
Timeline & Tagging Settings
Another significant privacy setting in Facebook is the Timeline and Tagging section. In here, you can control your timeline and who sees it and who can post on it. You can also control the visibility of posts you are tagged in and choose the option of reviewing them before they show up in front of your audience. The list of settings includes:
Who can post on your timeline?
Who can see what others post on your timeline?
Allow others to share your posts to their stories?
Hide comments containing certain words from your timeline: this you can set on or off.
Who can see posts you’re tagged in on your timeline?
When you’re tagged in a post, who do you want to add to the audience of the post if they can’t already see it?
Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?
Review posts you’re tagged in before the post appears on your timeline?
Review what other people see on your timeline.
Review tags people add to your posts before the tags appear on Facebook?
Review each selection carefully and choose the best option for you.
Turn off Annoying Ads
As much as you hate to admit it, you know you are being tracked from Amazon to Instagram and everywhere in between. Everything you purchase online, say, and do are collated and used to feed ads with the hopes that you will click and buy. Facebook is no exception, but you can turn those ads off if you don’t want to see them. Go to Settings > Ads and review the settings in there. The top section actually allows you to customize things you are interested in, so the ads gear more towards those topics. You can even turn on and off a few types of information that advertisers can access, like your relationship status, employer, job title, and education.
Next, there is a section where you can “Allow” or “Not allow” ads based on things you do within Facebook and with other partner sites as well as your social activities. Select each one and choose whether or not to allow these.
A couple of additional settings in there allow you to hide ads geared towards alcohol, parenting, and pets.
Blocking Users and Apps
Another useful feature to help keep things safe inside Facebook is the blocking section. You can access those options by going to Settings > Blocking. Here, there are a few areas where you can block specific people from contacting you, seeing your stuff or sending you messages and invites. You can also block groups, pages, and apps in here. The options include:
Restricted List - friends on this list can only see “public” content you post.
Block app invites.
Block event invites.
Block group invites.
Read each one over carefully and select your choices based on how you want to use Facebook.
Protect Your Location
Although it’s pretty hard to hide your physical location nowadays with GPS on every device in our hands, there are a couple of ways you can limit Facebook getting its hands on your location.
On iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Facebook. Then click either While Using the App or Never.
On an Android phone, go to Settings > Privacy > Permissions manager > Location > Facebook. Click on Allow only while using the app or Deny.
In the Facebook app on your device, go to Settings & Privacy > Privacy Shortcuts > Manage your location settings > Location Access. Switch the toggle for Background Location to Off.
Face recognition is a relatively new feature within Facebook, which allows the platform to find you in photos and videos using a template created by your face. Face recognition may suggest content to you, suggest tags, and assist with future features. They claim it also helps with accessibility for people who have a visual impairment (it can verbally tell them who is in the photo). It may also help to keep your account safe and prevent identity theft. You can choose to turn it on or off after reading the long warning displayed when you go to Settings > Face Recognition.
After reviewing all these settings, your Facebook account will be as secure and private as possible, until the next data breach that is.