How to Secure Your Facebook Account
Public or Private? Tech Talker gives you the ins and outs of your Facebook security settings.
Today, we’ll talk about that super popular social media site: Facebook.
To start, let’s break down the things you use Facebook for into 4 categories:
• status updates
• contact information
When you first create your Facebook account, most of the options will be set to “Public,” which means that by creating your Facebook profile you automatically opt into having your information made public for the world to see. Practically speaking, this means that anyone can search for you, look at your pictures, and see your full profile.
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So before I get into the nitty gritty of how to secure your Facebook page, let’s take a step back and look at why you might want to lock down your profile in the first place.
Should You Lock Down Your Facebook Profile?
One of the biggest reasons for wanting to lock down your Facebook page has to do with prospective employers. When you submit a resume to a company, you can bet that they will look you up online. A person’s online activity is oftentimes on Facebook, so if your Facebook is public, whatever is on your page will be one of the first impressions your potential boss will have of you. So those embarrassing pictures that seemed hilarious last weekend may not make the best impression in the professional world.
This next reason is why I locked down my Facebook profile. It basically comes down to Facebook stalkers/creepers. A few years ago I went to a large family wedding where I ran into some family members I hadn’t seen since elementary school. Minutes later, I was being asked about my girlfriend, our trip to Disneyland, and specific pictures that I recently took. It was as though I had been sharing my private life with this individual for years. When I asked, “Wow, who told you about my vacation?” she smiled and said, “Oh, well I saw it on Facebook, of course!”
Right then and there I realized that I needed to make a change. I was thoroughly creeped out that someone could know that much about me without my having ever realized it (or allowed it)!
So as soon as I could, I locked down my account so that only my friends could see my full profile. I made my public facing page only display my main picture, my email address, and my educational credentials—just enough for someone to find me, but no other personal identifiers.
How to Lock Down Your Facebook Page
So let’s cover the basics first. When you login to Facebook, look at the top right corner of your screen where you see a drop down arrow. From here, click “Privacy Settings.” You’ll see that there are numerous options that you can alter, from making your profile totally public, to only limiting it to your friends, to other customized options.
The one I suggest editing is the section labeled “Timeline and Tagging.” In this menu, I limit who can see my timeline to just my friends and I have my profile set so that I review everything I’m tagged in before it goes live on my Facebook page. This means no embarrassing picture of me gets uploaded without me knowing!
See also: Do You Have Bad Facebook Manners?
Let’s move on to more options. When you navigate to your profile, you’ll see a little gear icon next to the button “Activity Log.” Clicking this button will allow you to view your profile from someone else’s perspective. I think that this is the most useful tool on Facebook! This way you can view your Facebook how the public sees it, how your relatives see it, and how certain settings make your page look to others. This may not sound like the most exciting thing to do on Facebook, but you’ll be glad you spend a few minutes playing around with it to get your profile looking just right.
More Security Features
So now using some of these security settings you’ll be able to protect your status updates, pictures and contact information automatically. But let’s take this one step further and strengthen the security of how you log into your Facebook account. I have my Facebook set up to send me a text message every time I log in from a new device. That way, if anyone tries to sign into my account, I’ll know about it right away. Here’s how you can do the same for your account.
So now we have a pretty secure Facebook profile, but there’s something else that many of you probably didn’t realize. Apps that ask you to log in with your Facebook credentials often have access to much of the information you put on Facebook—public or not! The information you put on your Facebook wall is generally used for targeted advertising, but I never really understood why some popular Facebook games require my phone number, email, and gender to play a game. I’m very wary when it comes to these games simply because there is often little to no record of what they do with your information once they have it.
See also: How to Maintain Your Privacy on the Web
I like to think that these app developers keep my information safely tucked away in a vault, but there have been many incidents within the past year in which major companies were hacked and had user data stolen, or even some companies that flat out sold user data to the highest bidder. So the next time a game or app asks you to sign in using Facebook, just remember that if you do, you’re allowing these apps to have access to your information. Just ask yourself, is it worth it?
With that here are your 4 Quick and Dirty Tips for securing your Facebook profile:
1) Use “Privacy Settings” to lock down who can see which parts of your profile.
2) Check to see what your profile looks like from another person’s perspective.
3) Set up text message or email notifications to know if/when your account is accessed from an unfamiliar device.
4) Always be wary of apps that ask to sign in using your Facebook account information. They may not use your personal information ethically.
Well, that’s it for today. Be sure to check out all my posts at http://techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com/. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post your comments on the Tech Talker Facebook page.
Now in case you are listening to this podcast months in the future, just note that Facebook likes to change where certain settings are located. If this happens to be the case, I’m sure a quick Google search will clear up any of your questions.
Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!
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