Last updated: September 28, 2020
How to Stay Safe on Facebook
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Facebook’s still growing in popularity every year. In fact, it now has almost as many users as there are people living in China!
You’d think such a popular program would be well-loved, but it still has quite the reputation problem, mostly stemming from its apparent lack of respect for individual privacy.
It makes sense: Their entire business model is making money off your data.
Facebook, just like any other “free” service, does have a cost, just not in dollars. In order to use their service, you allow them to use your private data.
Facebook’s revenue comes from selling highly-targeted advertising directed at its users. They can charge a hefty fee to display ads because the advertisers can narrow down their target audience by age, gender, location, friends, likes and dislikes, and every other detail of your life you’ve told them about.
But though we may all want to swear off Facebook forever, it does have its uses. Most of your friends and family are probably all on it. Facebook makes it so easy to see what they’re up to and keep in touch, even from hundreds of thousands of miles away. If you hadn’t “friended” them on Facebook, you might’ve never found out about your cousin’s new job or your high school buddy’s new baby.
For many of us, the pros outweigh the cons. We’re willing to give up a bit of personal data in exchange for making our lives a bit more convenient.
But is there a compromise? Can you keep in touch with friends and family without Facebook and the world knowing every detail of your life?
Try to navigate through the labyrinth of Facebook privacy settings, and you get the impression they don’t want to make it easy for you. Check out the guide below on how you can keep your data safe.
How to Stay Safe on Facebook
Facebook – everybody uses it. No wonder it’s such a magnet for moneymakers, be they criminals or corporations. But maintaining your privacy – and your security – is just a question of taking a few simple steps.
- Only 37% of Facebook users say they’ve changed their privacy settings to protect their data.
- 28% of Facebook users in the US share almost all of their posts with an audience wider than just their ‘Friends’.
- 30% of college admissions officers discovered information online that harmed an applicant’s prospects.
- 69% of HR officers have rejected job applicants based on social media checks.
- 780% Increase in Facebook and Twitter-related crimes, between 2008-2012.
- Identity Theft – Your personal details can be exploited to gain access to your bank accounts and other sensitive areas of your life.
- Stalkers – Individuals who might use publicly listed information or photos to trace you online or in the real world.
- Data Harvesting – By default, Facebook shares your data with third parties such as advertisers.
- Scams – Spam messages and fake posts may encourage you to share your contact details in forms or with someone who appears to be your ‘friend’.
- Profiling – Research shows it’s possible to accurately determine your race, IQ, sexuality, substance use, personality or political views using a record of your Facebook ‘Likes’.
- Trust – Share photos and video only with people you really know.
- Passwords – Keep a different one for each social media account.
- Self-censoring – Consider what information you really need to share – does everyone need to know your political affiliations or employer’s name?
How to Stay Safe on Facebook
Check your basic settings:
- Click on the triangle on the top right of any Facebook page and select Settings.
- Select Privacy on the left.
- Click Edit on “Who can see my stuff?”
- Change privacy to Friends or customize which friends you would like to include.
- To protect all past status updates, click Limit Past Posts, then Limit Old Posts.
- You can also click on the padlock icon on the top right of any page to quickly check your basic privacy settings.
- Select Security on the left.
- Click Edit on Login Notifications
- Select how you would like to be informed of irregular activity.
If you’re really concerned that someone else may access your account:
- click Edit under Login Approvals and click the tick box.
- Click Get Started and follow the onscreen instructions.
Are Your Friends Unknowingly Sharing Information About You?
- Go to Settings as above. Click Apps. Under the Apps others use click Edit. Uncheck all the boxes. Click Save Changes.
To see what your page looks like to a specific person, click on your name at the top to go to your timeline. On the menu next to your profile photo is an option to ‘View As’.
Your profile and cover photos cannot be hidden – they can be seen by anyone online. If you don’t want others to capture an image of your face, use a photo of something else.
Creating ‘Friends lists’ makes it easier to configure who can and can’t see your profile, uploads etc. To do this:
- Hover over FRIENDS on your homepage. Click on More when it appears.
- Click Create List to name and populate your selection.
End It All
Of course, the easiest way to stay safe on Facebook is to shut down your profile. There are two options available:
- Facebook retains your data.
- Your profile disappears immediately.
- Can be reactivated.
- All information is wiped.
- Disable any Facebook log-ins you have on other sites first.
- It’s gone forever.
Whether you’re threatened by cyber-fraud or worried about your own drunken photos, always be vigilant about your safety on Facebook.
- They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets – nytimes.com
- Sidejacking, Firesheep, and AOSSL – symantec.com
- Tips for Using Public Wi-Fi Networks – consumer.ftc.gov
- 5 Easy Steps to Stay Safe (and Private!) on Facebook – nytimes.com
- Facebook Privacy – consumerreports.org
- How old do you have to be to sign up for Facebook? – facebook.com
- Facebook users unwittingly revealing intimate secrets, study finds – theguardian.com
- The dangers of posting photos online – nydailynews.com
- Facebook Privacy Tips – consumerreports.org
- Basic Privacy Settings & Tools – facebook.com
- How do I set the audience when I’m using an older version of Facebook for mobile that doesn’t have an audience selector? – facebook.com
- How do I control what is shared by apps my friends use? – facebook.com
- How do I permanently delete my account? – facebook.com
- Delete Account – facebook.com
- How do I deactivate my account? – facebook.com
- How do I block someone? – facebook.com
- Identity theft reportedly rampant on Facebook, protect yourself – digitaltrends.com
- How do I create a new list to organize my friends? – facebook.com
- Five Hidden Dangers of Facebook – cbsnews.com
- How Social Media Networks Facilitate Identity Theft and Fraud – eonetwork.org
- Social media-related crime reports up 780% in four years – theguardian.com