Connecting with friends new and old, maintaining friendships, capturing moments etc are all social benefits the platform was originally designed for. But with privacy concerns of greater concern than ever, as the Cambridge Analytica scandal has arguably proved, how can we deal with the security of our own information online?
Here our top six tips to locking down your account:
1 - Limit access to you and your Facebook stuff
WHY? You wouldn’t be willing to reveal everything you share to everyone beyond your network of friends. Limiting access to your profile will help ensure you only share content with people you know and trust.
HOW:To restrict access to your past and future Facebook posts, click ‘Privacy’ in the left pane of the Account Settings. Then by ‘Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared…’ choose ‘Limit Past Posts’.
A warning appears when you attempt to limit access to all your past posts at once rather than changing the setting post-by-post.
In the same section, click ‘Edit’ to the right of ‘Who can see your future posts?’. You may choose to restrict them to a smaller group, such as ‘Friends’.
2 - Limit how you can be found
WHY? If your profile is set to public, you are visible to any of 3.58 billion internet users, (2.1 billion of which are Facebook users) worldwide.
HOW: Go to settings > Privacy > How people can find and contact you, and by ‘Who can look you up using the email address you provided?’ and ‘Who can look you up using the phone number you provided?’, make sure that ‘Everyone’ is NOT ticked.
You can also limit who finds you in the same Privacy settings, by ‘Who can send you friend requests?’
3- Make sure you're browsing securely
WHY? You might be using Facebook for payments or logging on to other accounts. Using a secure connection will help prevent sensitive data from being intercepted.
HOW: Last month Facebook made secure browsing the default for all users. To ensure you're using a secure connection whenever one is available, click ‘Security and login’ in the left pane of Facebook's Account Settings. Here you can check ‘Where you’re logged in’.
These security settings also let you enable log-in notifications and approvals, and view and edit your recognised devices and active sessions. If there are any suspect devices you’re not sure about, you can remove it by clicking to the right of it, and selecting ‘Not you’ if you want to block that device, or ‘Log out’ if you’re unsure.
4 - Set up login notifications
WHY? The fastest way to know if your account has been compromised is to be alerted every time someone accesses your account from a new device.
HOW: Facebook can send you an alert every time someone accesses your account from an unknown computer or other device, enabling you to receive a warning that someone has gained unauthorised access to your account.
This is a quick and simple way to ensure it is only you, or people you have trusted with your account can actually log in.
In the Settings, click ‘Security and login’ in the left hand pane. Under ‘Setting up extra security’, click ‘Edit’ next to ‘Get alerts about unrecognised logins’ and choose whether you want to receive an email, notification or text message. Click on ‘Save Changes’. Login notifications are now active.
5 - Turn on login approvals
WHY? If you use the same password for multiple sites and any one of them (and your password) gets compromised, your Facebook account could be at risk. Having two-factor authentication process significantly improves the security of your Facebook account.
HOW: Every time you access your account from an unknown browser you can get Facebook to send a code which you will then need to use to login.
In settings, select ‘Security and login’ and then ‘Use two-factor authentication’. Add a method from those shown below, such as text message, security keys or code generator and follow the steps given. If it still says ‘Two-factor authentication is off.’, click ‘Set up’ to enable this function.
Note, you’ll only need to use a code whenever you login from somewhere new so if you always use the same browser and phone you will not need to verify your identity every time. It does makes it much more difficult for a hacker to get into your account from elsewhere, so it’s a great thing to enable.
6 - Don't let your apps run in the background
WHY? Apps running in the background not only use up precious processing power on your computer or mobile device, but it can also potentially be tracking personal data such as your every keystroke or physical location.
HOW: Some Facebook apps grab all the permissions they can, including access to your information and the ability to post photos and status updates ‘on your behalf’. For example, the IFTTT app lays claim to your complete profile and all your activities, as well as some of the profile and activities of your friends.
If you’re starting to feel nervous about the exploitation of your personal data but aren’t ready to delete social media, there are some simple steps you can take to mitigate your digital footprint. “We should all do a little digital spring cleaning,” advises Leila Hassan, head of analytics at the London branch of Ogilvy, a global advertising agency. “Check what [third-party apps] you’ve enabled through your social channels. I’ll bet most of us still have things enabled from years ago.”
Apps we deleted from our phones a long time ago will still be saved on our Facebook accounts, allowing our information to be readily available. Facebook is unable to delete data that has been given out previously; it can only stop from the day we choose to limit our profiles, so this is something we all need to be acting on pronto!
We even log into Airbnb, a trusted site, via Facebook. We need to get into the habit of logging into these sites directly rather than through an app where all our information is handed out to third parties.
Facebook apps such as IFTTT require access to your entire profile and some of your friends' information.
To review your Facebook app permissions, click Apps in the left pane of the Account Settings window, choose ‘Edit’ to the right of the app's entry, and either change the app's visibility via the drop-down menu, or click ‘Remove app’ at the bottom of the window.
You can also click ‘Report app’ to let Facebook know the app is spam, inappropriate, or requesting too much information, or to contact the developer to report a bug or abusive content, or for another reason.
Report an app to Facebook as spam or otherwise inappropriate, or contact the app's developer via the ‘Report app’ option in the app's settings.
- 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.