How to Make Your Facebook Account More Private and Secure Part One: Settings - Tech Marks The Spot


How secure and private is your Facebook account? The Internet is full of cool and interesting people. Unfortunately, it also has many bullies, scammers, predators, hackers, and even a few people that you might not want to see that post that you made about your boss or that picture from last years New Years Eve party. The process of increasing your security and privacy on Facebook is painless. This is part one of the two part series: How to Make Your Facebook Account More Private and Secure. Here, in part one, we are going to deal with your settings.

Basics: Privacy Checkup

What is Privacy Checkup? In Facebook's own words:
"Take a few minutes to review how you're currently sharing your information with people on Facebook and with the apps and websites from other companies that you've used Facebook to log into."
In the following steps you will make your first moves toward reclaiming some of your privacy. Log in to your Facebook account. Head over to Facebook and log in to your account. Click the question mark in the upper right corner of your screen. This will open Facebook's Quick Help. Quick help does exactly what it's name implies. You can get help as well as set some basic privacy settings. Click Privacy Checkup. The Privacy Checkup tool will open. Choose the audience for your next post. When you post something to Facebook you can choose who sees it. Do you want your posts to be public? The trouble with everyone being able to see what you post is that "everyone" includes the following people:

  • Your boss
  • Your ex
  • Your stalker (if you have one)
  • Trolls and cyber bullies
  • Potential online predators

The much safer choice that I would recommend would be to set your post visibility to friends. This way the only people you are allowing to see your posts are the ones on your Facebook friends list. Click Next. Choose what personal profile information to share. Let's be honest here. Would you ever openly publish your phone number, email address, location, and where you work for all the world to see? If you are anything like me you will answer that question with a huge no. The truth is, when you set your profile information to public you are publishing all these things and more for all the world to see. My recommendation would be to at least set your phone, email, location information, and birthday to friends. For security reasons I would advise setting your birth year so only you can see it. Click Next. Choose the apps and websites you want to share and remove the ones you no longer use. Take a look and remove any apps and websites that you no longer use or don't want connected to your Facebook account. Be sure to choose who you want these apps and sites to be visible to. Click Finish. Click the Finish button to wrap this part up. Click Close. That's it. You have made your Facebook account a lot more private than it was before you began this guide. We aren't finished yet. Let's dig a little deeper in your settings to make things even more private and secure.

Get Your Security and Privacy Settings in Order

Now it's time to get under the hood and ensure that your settings are in good shape for your security and privacy. This will be pretty quick and easy so follow along step by step. Click the down arrow in the upper right corner of your screen. A menu will pop open with several options. Click Settings. Your account settings will open. Click Security and Login. You will see your security and login settings. Check out the places that you are logged in. This is a list of all the devices that are logged in to your Facebook account. Most of what you see will probably be where you have logged in to your account. You can log out any prior logins. If you see any logins that you don't recognize, immediately log them out and change your password. Setup two-factor authentication. What is two-factor authentication? It is a process where you use two different methods to log in to an account. If you enable two-factor authentication, then whenever you, or anyone else for that matter, logs in to your Facebook account from an unknown device they will have to also enter a code to get access to your account. Why use two-factor authentication? Because with it on no one will be able to access your account even if they have figured out your password. Here is what you do: Next to Use two-factor authentication click Edit. Click the blue Get Started button. The easiest way is to select Text Message and click Next. Enter the six digit code you were texted and click Next. Click Finish. Under Add a Backup click Setup next to Recovery Codes. Click Get Codes. Enter your password and click Submit. Copy these codes and save them on your computer. You can use these codes if you ever want to log in to Facebook on a different device but can't access your phone. Choose friends to contact if you get locked out. What if you ever get locked out of your account? This setting will have you covered. Back in your Security and Login settings head down to the Setting Up Extra Security section. Click Edit next to Choose 3 to 5 friends to contact if you get locked out. Click Choose friends. Read the information and click Choose Trusted Contacts. Enter the contacts and click Confirm. Click Close. Now if for some reason you are locked out of your account you can get a code off one of your trusted friends to regain access. Click Privacy. You will find this on the left side of your settings page. Set who can see your future posts. You should have already set this on Privacy Checkup but double check here to make sure. I would recommend this one being set to Friends. Limit the audience of your old posts. You have already made your future posts more private, but what about all the stuff you have already posted? Click Limit Past Posts, click Limit Past Posts again, then click Limit Past Posts one final time. Finally click Close. Control who can send you friend requests. You have two choices, either Everyone or Friends of Friends. Everyone could include anyone from that old chum from high school to a potentially new stalker. Friends of Friends means just that - only friends of your friends can send you friend requests. The choice is yours but setting it to Friends of Friends would be more secure. Choose who can see your friends list. You have several choices here but I recommend setting it so that only you can see your friends list. Why? There are a lot of scammers out there and fake profiles are a huge problem. One of the tactics that they like to use is to take a copy of a picture of you (easy enough to get from your Facebook profile or Google), set up a new Facebook account posing as you, and then doing whatever it is that they are out to do. How do you make it harder for them to do this to you? Set it so that only you can see your friends list. In so doing you cut them off from seeing who your friends are. Choose who can look you up using email. Here you have four choices - you can let everyone look you up via email, friends of friends, just friends, or no one. What is the best choice? The trouble with letting everyone look you up this way is again that it could be anyone from an old friend to someone that you don't want to communicate with, or even worse, someone dangerous. The safest choice is not to let anyone look you up by email. Only letting your friends (or friends of friends at most) is a reasonable way to go and it is the way I have mine set up. Choose who can look you up using your phone number. The same thing that applied to email applies here. I would advise to set this one so that only your friends can look you up this way. Do you want search engines to link to your profile? Simply put: Do you want people to be able to Google your profile? Speaking for myself, I'd rather not make myself that accessible to total strangers across the Internet. I would make sure this one is turned off. Click Timeline and Tagging. Decide who can post on your timeline. Your choices are either to allow your friends to post on your timeline or just you. It's a judgment call. You pick. I allow my friends to post but there definitely isn't anything wrong with playing it safe and only allowing yourself. Choose who can see what others post on your timeline. I would say take the safe route and choose to only allow yourself to see what others post on your timeline. That way if someone does post something that you wouldn't want your whole friends list to see it wont matter, because only you will be able to see it. Decide who can see the posts that you are tagged in. I would set this one to only friends. Review posts that you are tagged in before they can appear on your timeline. I would make sure this one is turned on. Doing this puts you in control of what you are tagged in on Facebook. Click Public Posts. Choose who can follow you. Friends is the safest choice here. The problem with allowing the general public to follow you is that scammers, stalkers, and predators are part of the general public. That's it. Now Your account is far more secure and private than it was before. Facebook will never be %100 secure or private, but the steps you just took brought you a lot closer. Increase your security, privacy, and general safety by following and above guide and putting into practice the best practices that I will show you in - How to Make Your Facebook Account More Private and Secure Part 2: Best Practices.

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