Another 5 tips to help keep you safe on Facebook

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Privacy

Last month we gave you 5 tips to make your Facebook account safer. Following on from that, here's another five...

1. Stop search engines from indexing your profile

Facebook's great for keeping in touch with friends and family but you might not want just anyone finding your profile via Google or other search engines. Here's how to fix that:

Click on the cog icon at the top right of your screen and then click Privacy Settings.

Privacy Settings

Now that you are in the Privacy Settings and Tools area of Facebook, find 'Who can look me up?' and the setting that says 'Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?'

Who can look me up

This is likely on by default, so click Edit and then remove the tick from the box which says 'Let other search engines link to your timeline'.

Search engines off

Note: It may take a bit of time for search engines to stop showing the link to your timeline in their results so don't expect it to disappear immediately from search results.

2. Block someone on Facebook

Just as in real life, some people on the web can prove challenging for a number of reasons. If you don't want someone to see your profile or things you write on Facebook, you can block them – and here's how to do just that.

Click on the padlock icon that you see in the top right hand corner of the screen. Now click on How do I stop someone from bothering me?

How do i stop someone from bothering me

Now either enter a name or email address and click Block.

Block someone

The person you block won't get any notification that they've been blocked and they will now no longer be able to initiate conversations with you or see anything that you post on your timeline either.

3. Public computer? Use a one-time password

If you would like to use Facebook from a public location, such as a computer in an internet cafe or library, you can use a one-time password to access your Facebook account, keeping your actual password safe. This password is sent to you by text message and will expire after 20 minutes.

Note: you do have to link your mobile number with your Facebook account in order to use this function.

All you need to do is send "otp" as a text message to the number listed next to your country and mobile carrier on the one-time password list on Facebook. If you're in the US, you can send the same message to 32665. Unfortunately, it isn't available everywhere, and the number of countries and carriers is fairly limited at the moment.

After you've sent the message, you will receive a reply from Facebook with your OTP, a one-time password of eight characters (or with instructions on how to link your mobile to your Facebook account).

You can now login to Facebook in the normal way, substituting this temporary password for your regular one.

*Always* remember to sign out of Facebook once you are finished, especially if you are signed in on a public computer. If you do leave your account signed in the next person to use the computer will have access to it, even without your password.

→ Even though we've just showed you how to use OTPs, we recommend avoiding public computers, such as those in libraries and internet cafes, as much as your digital lifestyle will permit. At the least, work on the (admittedly pessimistic) assumption that anything you type in or view on screen may be sent to cybercrooks, and stick to things you don't mind being public.

4. Block an app from accessing your information

If you already have an app installed on Facebook but you now want to prevent it from accessing your personal information then blocking it is quite simple.

Click on the cog icon found at the top right of the screen and then click on Account Settings.

Account settings

Look to the left pane and click on the fifth option from the top; Blocking.

Blocking

Then look for the last option - Block apps.

Block apps

All you need to do is put in the name of the app you want to block and then press enter.

5. Remove something from your timeline

If you or someone else has put something on your timeline which you want to remove, it's pretty easy to do.

Firstly, navigate to your timeline and find the story you wish to block from appearing. Next, move your mouse to the top right corner of the story and you will see what looks like an arrow head appear. Click on that and you'll be shown a box.

You now have two options here. You can either choose to Hide from timeline which will stop the post from showing on your page (but it will still appear in newsfeeds and search).

Hide from timeline

Or you can remove it completely by clicking on Delete.

Delete post

This is just a small selection of tips to help you safeguard your Facebook profile.

If you have any others please do add them in the comments below.

And if you would like to stay up to date on the latest Facebook scams and other internet threats then please do consider liking the Naked Security page on Facebook if you haven't done so already.


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16 Responses to Another 5 tips to help keep you safe on Facebook

  1. Great tips to help you keep your Facebook profile a little more private

  2. A good habit is to delete old content from Facebook. Not just hide it, just delete it. Nobody is going to look it up anyway and you should have the pictures uploaded already. On your phone, on your drive.

    Just go to your activity log, go to today a year ago and start removing stuff. It'll take quite some time but it's worth it.

  3. Nigel · 361 days ago

    Great article, Lee. If I ever decide to use Facebook again, these will be handy features to know about. Of course, by then Facebook undoubtedly will have figured out new ways to invade their users' privacy...which is the reason why I opted for Tip No. 6 — the most effective one of all: Delete account. ;-)

    • Mark Longson · 360 days ago

      Tip no.6
      Well a friend of mine deleted his account 3 years ago now,
      and guess what it was still there but he couldn't log in because he had forgotten his password, then one day he got in without even entering a password!

      So you might want to check if your account still exists and if you can log in?

      HTH Mark

      • Nigel · 360 days ago

        The account is gone. Before I deleted it, I requested that Facebook send me all the information contained in the account. (At that time, they claimed they would honor such requests. I don't know whether that's still true.) Anyhow, they never even acknowledged the request, much less sent the information. That did it. I deleted the account.

        That doesn't mean Facebook doesn't still have the information, some of which they collected without my knowledge or permission. I would set my preferences in a certain way, and then they would change the rules without telling me. I finally had enough. I have better things to do than constantly stay on top of their attacks on my personal information.

        Facebook doesn't force anyone to use their service, but it's not free. Facebook cashes in by monetizing your information, which you provide to them at the cost of your privacy. Obviously, it's a price that hundreds of millions of people are willing to pay. I'm not.

    • Davey · 360 days ago

      I would like to delete an account which Facebook opened using my name and email address (without my knowledge or permission) but there doesn't seem to be a way of doing so.

      • mozt · 360 days ago

        You can go to Facebook, put in your email address and then select forgot your password. They should send a link where you could reset the password and then proceed to delete the account.

    • Thomas Tanghus · 360 days ago

      I'd have to agree with Nigels suggestion for No. 6. Finally deleted my account last month :)

  4. Mathew · 361 days ago

    the problem with facebook is if you're using facebook messenger, people can see you are active and last login timestamp, even if you're not using facebook. this is serious breach of privacy.

  5. youmissedIT · 361 days ago

    http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/04/privacy-...
    how did you miss this privacy change, entire week and not a word about it

  6. annegregoroff · 360 days ago

    Nigel, is it possible to delete an account now, or is it still just "disable?"

  7. Wolf_Star · 360 days ago

    The more we know about Facebook, the safe we all will be.

    Best way of all...don't get on it if you don't really need to.

    Sometimes trying to keep up with everything and everybody else can use up so much time that should be used for *actually living* rather than doing so vicariously through the (cute animal pictures, babies barfing and adults being totally inept) entries on Facebook.

  8. I'm surprised that there's no mention of a very simple method I've used for years to help keep my private and professional online lives separated - namely, having one e-mail address for everyday use and another for professional communication. Most Internet providers allow multiple e-mail addresses, and there are also plenty of online providers like g-mail.
    I also maintain two Facebook accounts; one is my everyday page, the other is linked to my professional e-mail address and contains nothing but very basic information about me.

    Last but not not least, I have a very strict policy of never being social media "friends" with my co-workers, AND of never making public posts slamming my place of work.

  9. sean marsh · 182 days ago

    Used to be on FaceBook, but had concerns over security when a lot of family photographs mysteriously went missing, along with pictures taken during walking trips...they then suddently reappeared back in my photo's section but scattered in different folders two weeks later?...Anyone know how or why that happened?

  10. Anonymous · 35 days ago

    my friend update her photo then some times she delete that in future any one can see her photo

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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.