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The Complete Guide to Facebook Account Security and Privacy 2016: Part 1

Facebook, Social Media Threat

Social media has now become an integral part of our lives. And while talking about social media, it’s hard not to talk about Facebook which is the biggest social network out there with over a billion active users. It’s almost hard to find someone who has never used Facebook. Even many of our parents, neighbours, distant relatives now are active on Facebook. Sometimes many of us also add unknown people to our friends list just after a quick glance at their profile.

The problem with social media arises there is no clear distinction between private life and public life. If we do not carefully understand privacy on social media, we are at the risk of malicious actions of cyber criminals. So is there a way to understand this in an easy way?

Yes, there is. Follow this guide to learn the basics of security and privacy settings on Facebook.

The simplest step is first checking out the Privacy Shortcuts provided by Facebook.

Privacy Shortcuts

Facebook Security Settings

Your privacy shortcuts give you quick access to some of the most widely used privacy settings and tools. Click at the top of the page to see shortcuts that help you manage:

  • Who can see my stuff?
  • Who can contact me?
  • How do I stop someone from bothering me?

This is also where you’ll find the latest privacy updates and other helpful tools. The shortcuts you find here may change over time to reflect the settings and tools that are most relevant.

Facebook Account Settings

Now we will dive into the actual Settings of your account which has a lot of sections including General, Security, Privacy, Notifications, Apps, Ads, Videos, etc but we will here focus on Security and Privacy.

Security Settings

Click on the Security section in your Facebook account Settings page. Let’s go through these settings one by one.

Screenshot from 2016-06-06 18:51:01

Login Alerts

This option allows you to receive alerts as notification and an email when anyone logs into your account from an unknown device. It is a good idea to turn on the notification and even the Email alert so that you can get to know instantly if any unauthorized person accesses your account.

Code Generator

Code Generator is part of an extra security feature called login approvals. If you turn on login approvals, you’ll be asked for a special security code each time you try to log into your Facebook account from a new computer or mobile phone.

Code Generator is a feature in the Facebook app and creates a unique security code every 30 seconds, even if you don’t have access to text messages (SMS) or an internet connection. You can use this code in addition to your password to log into Facebook. You can also use Code Generator if you ever need to reset your password.

To get your code on your Android:

  1. From your Facebook app, tap
  2. Scroll down and tap Code Generator
  3. Use the code to log into Facebook

To get your code on your iPhone or iPad:

  1. From your Facebook app, tap More
  2. Scroll down and tap Code Generator
  3. Use the code to log into Facebook

App Passwords

App passwords are one-time passwords you can use to log in to your apps and help keep your Facebook password safe. If you have login approvals turned on, you won’t have to wait to receive a code when you use an app password. Instead, you can skip login approvals and log in immediately.

Note: Facebook saves a list of the apps you generate app passwords for, but it doesn’t save the passwords. If you log out of any of your apps, generate a new password.

Public Key

This option allows you to manage an OpenPGP key on your Facebook profile and enable encrypted notifications. Also, here you can download Facebook’s public key which will be needed to setup encrypted connection with Facebook. For those who are not aware about this encryption, I suggest reading this Wikipedia page.

Trusted Contacts

Trusted contacts are friends you can reach out to if you ever need help getting into your Facebook account (ex: you forget your Facebook password and can’t get into your email account to reset it).

After you set up trusted contacts, next time you can’t get into your account your trusted contacts can access special, one-time security codes from Facebook via a URL. You can then call your friends to get the security codes and use those codes to access your account.

To edit or remove trusted contacts from your account, follow steps 1 through 3 and click Edit next to your trusted contacts.

Learn how to use your trusted contacts to get back into your account.

Your Browsers and Apps

Here you can review which browsers (from respective devices) have been marked as frequently used by you. If some browser seems suspicious or unknown, then it’s better to remove it.

Where You’re Logged In

This option shows all the places from where you have logged into your Facebook account including web browsers, mobile apps, Messenger apps, etc. Again, it is advisable to click on “End Activity” beside any of it which seems suspicious, unknown or on an old device.

Legacy Contact

A legacy contact is someone you choose to look after your account if it’s memorialized. Once your account is memorialized, your legacy contact will have the option to do things like:

  • Write a pinned post for your profile (ex: to share a final message on your behalf or provide information about a memorial service)
  • Respond to new friend requests (ex: old friends or family members who weren’t yet on Facebook)
  • Update your profile picture and cover photo

You also have the option to allow your legacy contact to download a copy of what you’ve shared on Facebook, and we may add additional capabilities for legacy contacts in the future.

Your legacy contact can’t:

  • Log into your account
  • Remove or change past posts, photos and other things shared on your Timeline
  • Read messages you’ve sent to other friends
  • Remove any of your friends

Deactivate Your Account

This option is pretty self-explanatory. Deactivating your account will disable your profile and remove your name and photo from most things you’ve shared on Facebook. Some information may still be visible to others, such as your name in their friends list and messages you sent.
Now let’s move on to the Privacy Settings.

Privacy Settings

Facebook Privacy Settings

The Privacy settings help you review basic privacy settings and make sure your profile and the content you shared are viewed by the audience you select. Let’s run through each of the options.

Who can see my stuff?

You can manage the privacy of things you share by using the audience selector right where you post. This control remembers your selection so future posts will be shared with the same audience unless you change it. The basic options available are:-

  • Public
  • Friends
  • Only Me
  • Custom
  • Close Friends
  • Family
  • …..and more based on your pages, locations, lists, etc.

It is advisable to not keep the visibility as public for posts that are more personal in nature. In this same section, you can review your posts and your Facebook activity by using the Activity Log, or limit the audience for your posts in the past.

Who can contact me?

Here you can choose who all can send you a friend request.

Who can look me up?

With this option, you can choose if you want to be looked up by people using your e-mail address or your phone number. Also, you can select if you want search engines to send someone looking for your name to your Facebook timeline. This is an important privacy setting that you should consider, since your Facebook timeline will appear in search engine results if someone searches for your name.

In the next part, we will examine the next few sections – “Timeline and Tagging”, “Blocking”, “Mobile”, “Apps” and “Ads”.

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