Four Steps to Secure Your Facebook Profile

Facebook is a terrific resource for networking, for catching up with old friends, and for staying in touch with the people you want to stay in touch with.  Maybe that’s why it has over 500 million active users from all over the world, with roughly half of them logging in every day.

The average Facebook user:

  • has 130 friends.
  • creates 90 pieces of content each month.
  • is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events.

As interesting as these stats might be, they trigger an even more interesting question: Who has access to your information?

Sure, you want to tell your friends how your day was, but do you want to share those comments with your boss?  Does your college admissions councilor really need to see the pics from last weekend’s party?  And does an application developer in Romania really need to know your home address?

If you’re going to maintain a Facebook profile, you should follow these four steps to secure your information.

 

Step 1: Edit Your Friends

This link will take you to your Friends list.

Is there anyone in this list that you never interact with?  If so, then click the x on the far right to remove them.  You should do this at least twice a year to keep your friends list current.  (Don’t worry.  Facebook won’t post a status update that you’re no longer friends with anyone you remove.  It’ll be our little secret.)

If you’re like me, you probably have people in your Friends list that you network with for work or creative projects.  These are the people you want to stay connected with, but you don’t want to grant them the same access to your profile that your Friends have.  You can add these Friends to your Limited Profile list by using the Edit List function on this page.

 

Step 2: Update Your Security Information

Unless you’re using a password vault, there’s always the chance that you’ll forget your Facebook password.  And what if someone compromises your Facebook account and changes the password?  What will you do to take control of your account?

Facebook lets you add security information in case you ever lose access to your account.  I strongly recommend that you add two email addresses and a mobile number.  Trust me on this one.

 

Step 3: Update Your Privacy Settings

Facebook has been in the news on multiple occasions for privacy concerns.  As a result, they continue to refine their privacy settings, granting users more and more control over their information.  The Privacy Settings page has four (4) key elements:

 

  1. Connecting on Facebook
  2. Sharing on Facebook
  3. Apps and Websites
  4. Block Lists

 

Below are my recommendations for updating your privacy settings.  Your mileage may vary, but I think this is a solid starting point.

The one point that I refuse to budge on: NEVER grant Everyone access to your Facebook information.  The risks far outweigh the benefits.

 

Connecting

  • Search for you on Facebook – Friends of Friends
  • Send you messages – Friends Only
  • See your Friends list – Friends Only
  • See your education and work – Friends Only
  • See your current city and hometown – Friends Only
  • See your likes, activities, and other connections – Friends Only


Sharing

  • Set everything to Friends Only

If you click on Customize Settings , you can lock down your information even further by listing specific Friends who you want to share information with.  Likewise, you can list specific Friends who are never permitted to see that information.

You might consider applying those settings to things like:

  • Your birthday
  • Permission to comment on your posts
  • Places you check into
  • Your contact information

 

Apps and Websites

Remember that app that you tried out back when you first joined Facebook?  Yeah, it still has access to your information.

Click on Edit Settings to remove the apps that you don’t use anymore.  If you want to start with a clean slate, you can click Turn off all platform apps.

Other Apps, Games and Websites settings recommendations:

  • Info accessible through your friends – Uncheck everything
  • Game and app activity – Friends only
  • Instant personalization – My preference is Disabled, but again: your mileage may vary
  • Public search – Disabled

 

Block Lists

Maybe it’s an ex.  Maybe it’s a stalker.  Maybe it’s a spammer who refuses to leave you alone.  It doesn’t matter who you want to block or why.  The important this is that Facebook lets you use this page to Block Users.

Facebook also lets you use this page block app invites, event invites, and apps.  Instead of constantly declining invitations to mind your neighbor’s farm, join their Mafia, or play Phrases with them, all you have to do is tell Facebook which apps you don’t want to play.  Simple as that.

 

Step 4: Tweak Your Account Settings

There are a TON of options on the Edit Account page, but I’m only going to touch on the ones that you absolutely need to update.

This link will take you to the Edit Account page.

  • Settings
    • Make sure your password is strong (letters + numbers + special characters) and hard to guess.  Again, I recommend using a password vault to store your passwords.
    • Linked Accounts – If you’re logged into another site, your browser will automatically log you into Facebook.  Keep this list as short as you can.
    • Account Security – Set this to https.  Otherwise, that shady character at Starbucks will hijack your account.
    • Download Your Information – If you want to backup your entire profile to your local computer, this is where you do it.
  • Notifications
    • Visit this page and start unchecking boxes.  Not so much a security setting as a “leave me the heck alone” setting.  You’re welcome. ;]
  • Mobile
    • If you choose to send updates to your mobile phone, NEVER set Limit my daily texts to Unlimited.
  • Payments
  • Facebook Ads
    • My recommendation is to set both dropdown boxes to No one.

 

As Facebook continues to improve their privacy policy, I’m sure these options will change.  In the meantime, these steps should be enough to keep you safe for now.

If you want to dig deeper into Facebook security, make sure to check out these links:

 

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