Recent studies show that privacy concerns are very much on the minds of Facebook users. Part of being a responsible member of any online community is educating yourself and your loved ones on how to properly configure the privacy and security settings offered by the platform. The fact that Facebook has over a billion members, and some are out to hack, scam and victimize others makes the issue even more pressing.
Our goal was to create a guide that Facebook users could reference to help them set up their privacy and security controls quickly, easily and appropriate for their comfort level of sharing.
This walk-through will show you how to configure your General, Privacy and Security Settings:
We will start out with the General Settings. Click the down arrow located in the top right corner and select the ‘Settings’ link towards the bottom of the menu. Or, if you are logged into Facebook, you can click this link and it will take you straight there: https://www.facebook.com/settings.
- Use a dedicated email address for Facebook. If you use an email account that you also use for banking or other sensitive information, then you are opening yourself up to a world of hurt if your Facebook account is ever hacked. There are several free email providers – Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, just to name a few. We also recommend enabling two-factor authentication on this account if available.
- Create a strong, secure password. For more information on the importance on having a good password, see our post: The Top Ten Commandments of Password Protection. (Don’t use the same password for Facebook that you use to access other accounts)
- Manage Account - Allows you to set a contact to manage your account once you pass away and you can also deactivate your account.
Security and Login -
Click the ‘Security and Login’ tab located in the left column:
- Where You’re Logged In - This feature shows all of the devices that is currently logged into your account. It’s a good idea to view this often and log out of all devices if you don’t recognize a login. This is a good way to remotely log out of a a computer or device that you no longer have access to.
- Change Password - Be sure to use a strong password that you aren’t using on any other sites!
- Setting Up Extra Security - We highly recommend using all features in this section to maximize account security, especially two-factor authentication and Trusted Contacts.
Privacy Settings and Tools -
Click the ‘Privacy’ tab located in the left column:
The settings here are likely vary somewhat based on personal preferences of each user.
- Who can see my stuff - at a minimum, we recommend setting default sharing option to Friends Except Acquaintances.
- Who can see my friend list - We highly recommend setting this to Only Me. This can help protect you from profile cloning scams.
- Limit the audience for old posts on your Timeline - Definitely do this.
- Who can look me up - set these according to your comfort level. We recommend that you do NOT let search engines outside of Facebook link to your profile.
Timeline and Tagging
-Click the ‘Timeline and Tagging’ tab located in the left column:
- Under Timeline and Tagging, we recommend using the options shown above. You should definitely review posts that you are tagged in before they appear and also review tags people add to your own posts before the tags appear on Facebook. It’s also very important to set your ‘tag suggestions’ on photos to No One.
Click the ‘Blocking’ tab located in the left column:
- Here you can manage all of the people, applications and events that you have blocked on Facebook. It is a good idea to block friends that have had their accounts hacked. You can remove the block once they have reclaimed their account. This keeps hackers from accessing your personal information reserved just for friends.
- Use the ‘Restricted List’ if you have people on your friends list that you only want to share public items with.
- Use the App blocking section to restrict invites from annoying applications and friends.
If you opt-in to receive notifications, be mindful that many phishing scams try to mimic Facebook notifications. Do not follow any external links in suspect messages. Always log in directly to Facebook to check and adjust account settings.
Click the ‘Mobile’ tab located in the left column:
- You will need to enter a mobile number here to enable login approvals. If Facebook doesn’t recognize your browser they will send you a code via text message that you must enter to complete the login.
Public Posts Filters and Tools
This section allows you to set who can follow you on Facebook and manage other settings relating to your activity on public posts. Set these according to your comfort level.
Click the ‘Apps’ tab located in the left column:
- Be very selective in the applications you install on Facebook. Don’t install questionable third party apps and remove anything suspicious. For more information on why you shouldn’t install questionable FB apps, see this post: Why You Should Not Install Fun and Entertaining Facebook Applications.
- If you don’t use apps at all and have no desire to, then you can totally disable them in the Apps Websites and Plugins section. Click the Edit link and then click the Disable Platform button.
- You’ll also want to edit the Apps others use setting to keep the applications your friends use from accessing your data.
Ads Preferences -
No one likes to deal with ads on Facebook. Unless you use an ad-blocking plugin, then you’re going to see ads. The platform is free for users (and always will be), and this is how Facebook monetizes the site. Review this section and limit everything you can and configure settings to your comfort level.
The main setting here to be aware of is Ads with your social actions - we recommend setting this to No One.
Support Dashboard -
This tab shows you the status of anything you have reported to Facebook and provides links to Facebook’s Help Links and Safety Center.
- Public Pictures – Your profile picture and cover photo are public by default, and this setting can’t be changed. If this concerns you, then don’t use a personal photograph. Also, be sure to use sharing controls for your photos and albums.
- Be careful what you post – once you post something online it can potentially come back to haunt you. Use the built in sharing controls for status updates and other posts to limit access to the intended audience.
- Be careful what you click – Even if all of your controls are set properly, clicking malicious links and installing malware can not only wreck your computer system, but it can affect your privacy and online safety as well.
- Log out of Facebook – Facebook has been known to track user activity on other websites, so logout when you are not using Facebook. Also, staying logged in can make it easier for your account to be hacked if you login from shared computers.
- Anti-virus software – install a reputable security software application and keep it updated.
- Facebook Help Center – Be sure to check this valuable resource for more information on any of the topics discussed in this post.
Article Updated July 29, 2017
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