5 tips to make your Facebook account safer

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Privacy, Security threats, Social networks

Help better safeguard your Facebook profile with these 5 quick tips.

1. Make sure only your friends can see your profile

You wouldn't just go up to a stranger in the street and start telling them about your life, so why would you want them to see your Facebook profile?

Click on the cog icon that you see in the top right hand corner of the screen. Then click Privacy Settings.

Privacy Settings

Click Privacy - the third option down in the left hand pane.

Facebook privacy ds

You are now in the Privacy Settings and Tools area of Facebook. From here you can control 'Who can see my stuff?'

Who can see my stuff

By editing 'Who can see your future posts?' you will be able to choose exactly who gets to see your future updates.

friends only

Choose from:

  • Public (which obviously means everyone)
  • Friends
  • Only you
  • Custom (which allows you to limit some of your friends from seeing your posts)

Pick what's best for you, but make sure 'Public' isn't selected. Whatever you choose will then become the default every time you post an update (though you still have the option of selectively changing this for each individual update you post in the future).

If you want to limit old posts that you may have made available to everyone or friends of friends then you can do this individually in the Activity Log, or you can choose to 'Limit the audience for old posts on your timeline'. This will change everything you've ever posted to only be seen by your friends.

Limit past posts

2. Control who can contact you on Facebook

The second part of the Privacy Settings and Tools section allows you to select who can contact you.

who can contact me

By default this is set up to allow friends and people you may know the opportunity to send you a message to your inbox.

If you want only friends to be able to contact you, you can increase the filtering on your inbox. Other messages will then be diverted to your 'other' folder which you can access from your Messages screen.

filtering

Additionally you can limit who can send you a friend request. By default, anyone can try to befriend you on Facebook, but if you'd rather limit that a bit you can change it so only friends of your friends can add you as a friend:

Facebook contact 3 ds

3. Limit who can discover your profile based on your email address and/or telephone number

The final option from the Privacy Settings and Tools screen allows you to control who can find you using your email address or telephone number.

Under 'Who can look me up?', click Edit next to the line that says 'Who can look you up using the email address or telephone number you provided?'

who can look me up

Change the setting to 'Friends of friends' or 'Friends' only.

4. Set up login notifications

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.

Still under Privacy Settings, click the second option in the left hand pane.

Facebook security ds

Click Edit next to login notifications and choose whether you want to receive an email or a text message/push alert. Click on Save Changes. Login notifications are now active.

Login notifications

5. Turn on login approvals

Every time you access your account from an unknown browser you can get Facebook to send a code to your phone which you will then need to use to login.

Next to 'Login approvals', click Edit. Then tick the box to 'require a security code to access my account from unknown browsers'. Click Save Changes.

Facebook login approvals ds

Click Get Started. Facebook will then take you through the process of setting up login approvals.

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.

These are just a few tips that can help you safeguard your Facebook profile.

If you have any tips you wish to share, please leave them in the comments below.

And if you're not already a member and would like to keep up to date on the latest Facebook scams and internet threats, please consider liking the Naked Security page on Facebook.

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42 Responses to 5 tips to make your Facebook account safer

  1. David Bradley · 429 days ago

    I never post anything private on my Facebook page and have it set to Public and spiderable to improve potential for new followers...is there a rationale for setting updates to just friends or less?

    • David Wa Edwards · 429 days ago

      quite: and anyway only the naive would be believe that the settings illustrated will make you 'safer' (whatever that is). The settings are provided to make you feel better. Period. For the record I sometimes use "Friends Only" but only to reduce the volume of traffic. Nothing is private on the Internet, not even for major players like the US or Chinese governments.

    • Jameson · 429 days ago

      If you're intending everything to be public, you're probably okay. It can be a great tool for authors, artists, and others who are trying to get their name / work better known. Since you're knowingly making everything public, you're probably already filtering the information you share -- whether consciously or subconsciously.

      Just like some bloggers choose to share incredibly personal information with the world (i.e. a battle with cancer) along side their craft tutorials, there's nothing that says you can't also share personal information to the public at large.

      This article, however, IS good advice for those who don't realize that Facebook has a tendency to make everything public unless you instruct them otherwise and who don't understand the implications of everything being public. Those people may be posting status updates, photos, and information that make them vulnerable. Some examples I've heard about:
      - Homes being robbed while owners are on vacation after Facebook status updates like "Having a great time in Barcelona! See you all in a few weeks"
      - Getting passed over for a job because there are too many photos of you partying/drinking heavily or drug references
      - Losing your job because you complain about your boss in an inappropriate manner.

      TL;DR:
      There's nothing wrong with a public Facebook account. It can be a great tool...BUT be smart about what you share when your profile is completely public.

  2. blah · 429 days ago

    nothing new to see here, move on to the next.

  3. I did all this over 2yrs ago, this 411 must be for net newbies! LOL

    • ScottK · 429 days ago

      Hey, everyone's gotta start somewhere :)

      • Also, remember that with Facebook, you need to review your settings, as Facebook changes them from time to time. So if you locked everything down 2 years ago, you may find that there are a few new defaults, and with Facebook, defaults default to permissive.

        This provides a good checklist of things to verify you're still in the state you intend to be in.

    • **EJ** · 428 days ago

      FB is notorious for changing the playing field every few months. The settings you put in place 6 months ago frequently aren't protecting you the way you intended. Best to review your settings on a frequent basis.

    • Linda · 424 days ago

      Every time facebook makes a change you have to go over all the above to make sure facebook did not change them automatically. All the 5 steps should be reviewed on your account at lease every couple of weeks..

    • Lyresa · 390 days ago

      Not a newbie but Facebook does do alot of resets and changes and this is a good refresher to double check your security.

  4. jalishouse · 429 days ago

    Thank you for this reminder. I finally changed my settings.

  5. Eder L. Marques · 429 days ago

    Nice tips. I would add to them Enable safe navigation, under security configuration.

  6. Why do different locations that I'm not show up as logging into my FB account?

  7. Bill · 429 days ago

    Thanks.

  8. Terry · 429 days ago

    If I had a facebook account :)

  9. Not a one of these helps with the NSA recording tracking or even commercial tracking. FAIL.

  10. Leslie Williams · 429 days ago

    Great tips for any user! Thanks for sharing

  11. Suzanne · 429 days ago

    It's important to note that even if you have everything posted as "Friends" only, if you link to another person in your post, THEIR friends will now have access to that post (but not your entire account).

  12. Nigel · 429 days ago

    Nice article, but you forgot the most useful tip of all:

    Tip 6: Delete account.

  13. Freida Gray · 429 days ago

    With all of the imposter accounts appearing on Facebook, another tip would be to set the privacy of your friend,s list to "Only Me'. That way the imposters will have to find friends of their own to spam & won't be able to mine your friends for their spam.

    • Debbie N · 428 days ago

      I second this suggestion! My mom has been impersonated, and there's nothing we can do. Facebook has a way to report the fake account, but in order to do it, the person being impersonated has to do the reporting from their real account (no one else can report it), and they have to access the fake account in order to report it. However, if the imposter blocks the person they're impersonating, then it becomes impossible for that person to report the imposter. We have found no other way of letting facebook know, so the fake account remains. I made my own friends list private after this happened and recommended my friends to do the same. ALSO: Be careful when you get a friend request from a friend you already have. Make sure it's really them; otherwise, an imposter is now your friend and has access to all your "private" information!

  14. bob · 428 days ago

    How about a printer version of this page. I don't need to read everyone's comments, I just need to print the instructions so I can apply them when I go to F/B.

    • **EJ** · 428 days ago

      Modern browsers have a "tab" feature which allow you to have multiple windows open and be able to switch between them for reference. No need to waste paper and ink.

    • gene · 427 days ago

      Or, you can just highlight the section you want to print, copy it with Ctrl-c or copy, then paste it into Word or Notepad or whatever with Ctrl-v or paste; and print that. :^)

  15. Guest · 428 days ago

    To be sure that you are safe and secure - Don't be on Facebook or any 'social' website at all.

  16. DaveyL · 428 days ago

    How do I delete a Facebook account which has been opened using my name and email address without my knowledge or permission? I've always avoided Facebook and similar sites but they told me I now have an account!

    • Wolf_Star · 428 days ago

      If it is opened with your email address, then you can use their password reset system to reset the password to something only you know.

      Once reset, you can edit or delete anything on it, or even delete the account (as far as Facebook will allow). Set security to maximum, give it a maximum-character random password and then forget it.

  17. Wolf_Star · 428 days ago

    Facebook isn't interested in your privacy. They are interested in making money.
    If you're worried about something you post of Facebook remaining private, don't post it.
    There is no guarantee of privacy for ANYTHING posted ANYWHERE on the Internet.
    If a computer or server is connected to the Internet, it can be breached.

  18. gene · 427 days ago

    For Facebook to be able to send me notices to my phone each time someone logs in, probably me, from another browser or any other kind of text message would mean I would have to let them know what my cell number is. That I will never do. Why on earth would I? Let them use my data plan to tell me I logged in from IE or Pale Moon or Chrome instead of Firefox? Please.

  19. Verve · 427 days ago

    I keep a couple of Facebook accounts, but none under my own name. One is male, and the other is female. In other words, one enjoys the FB world, but only as personas and never as my birth self. So, it doesn't matter what people see, say, think or otherwise cogitate, as they are only cogitating about illusory characters. Your face is only what you look like, it's not who you really are. Never wear your heart on your sleeve!

  20. Sizzle · 422 days ago

    What about advice on what not to post on Facebook in terms of personal data with ways in which someone can potentially use it against you?

    People post far too much about themselves on there. It's worrying. You wouldn't tell most of your "friends" face-to-face so why online? Facebook has a great way of making you feel like they're best buddies!

    • And most of them have never even met. I ask one day how many people on my friends list out of 3600 had actually met me and it was less than a hundred. BUT, some of them ARE better friends than people I have met and know for 15 years. I think that the reason for that is because if you're genuine online, be it FB or Tumblr, tweeter, a blog or what ever; words can paint a picture of who someone is inside. You don't have that physical chance of making a fake facade or seeing people around them and judging them for their friends or where they are at, all you have is words from their heart! Again, that is when you find someone who wants to be honest, Downside of that is, not being face to face and all those same reasons makes it hard sometimes to tell if they are being truthful!

  21. Diane Seelbach · 390 days ago

    my facebook changed language from English to Chinese some few months back & I've tried to translate it (actually I've done almost everything I possibly can without spending money to fix it) however, it's difficult to do some of these trial & error when I can't read where the privacy box is for example. Does anyone out here know or have any suggestions on how to get fb back in english for me for free?

    • Cat · 390 days ago

      At the very bottom of your facebook page go to HELP, search for Use Facebook I think it is, there is a host of languages. LOL, you can even select Pirate. Or try Facebook Languages in your search. It used to be at the bottom of the page, the language selection, but I am not seeing it. Anyway, when you find the language page, you should be able to just switch it back to English.

    • GiNga · 389 days ago

      go to https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=account&amp... and select the language you want from the drop-down, then "save changes" which is the blue button

  22. @Diane Seelbach, if you scroll down to the end of the Sponsored stuff on the far right, there is a little Facebook (c) 2013, directly under that is the language, which if you click into you can change your language.

  23. zartasha parishay · 224 days ago

    i want to ask that how i can manage the account that no one can send me message instead of my friends?

  24. Nitin · 200 days ago

    like

  25. Amah · 82 days ago

    thanks to we help from the hacker facebook

  26. Milan · 18 days ago

    Thanks a lot... <3 :)

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About the author

Lee Munson is the founder of Security FAQs, a social media manager with BH Consulting and a blogger with a huge passion for information security.