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Securing Your Profile: Step-By-Step

Securing Your Profile: Step-By-Step

By now, you should understand each of the roles you’ll apply. Let’s discuss profile settings you can make.

Friend Security

You are known by the company you keep. Improve your Facebook security by removing unwanted friends, groups, and organizations:

  1. Begin by opening your Account Menu and select Edit Friends (see Figure 2).
  2. Figure 2 Security settings access.

  3. To the right of each friend listed, you’ll find an X. Click the X to remove the friendship.

Groups are easy to leave. Navigate to the group, typcially by opening your profile’s Home and selecting the group by clicking on it. Review the far left, and you will find a clickable link to Leave Group. (If the “Like” button is listed so prominently, why is it difficult to find the unlike link?)

Overall, there are no penalities for too few friends, but there can be risks with too many. Let’s secure your account.

Account Security

Your account security begins with three things:

  • Use (and maintain) a reasonably long and complex password.
  • Be suspicious when reviewing communications from friends.
  • Confirm Facebook accounts before acting on requests.

For a really great article on password security and the importance, read my Informit article on passwords. This article discusses how famous people’s Internet accounts are compromised, often by sharing too much information on sites like Facebook. This information is used to answer challenge questions used to create a new password—and command the account.

Select Account Settings shown in Figure 2 to improve Account Security. You will see a multi-tabbed display. Figure 3 shows an overview of security settings.

Figure 3 Account security setting tabs.

Settings Tab

Of course, you can set/change your name, password, email address, etc. in this section. If you look at the page carefully, you notice a few things:

  • You can set up a profile and impersonate anybody. Facebook does not confirm your identity. Who’s impersonating you?
  • Linked Accounts lets you access the profile with a different account. Does this mean a hacker can plant a backdoor account in this section? (Yes.) If you got a call from Account Support asking you to configure a linked account, would you?
  • Is Deactivate Account the same as deleting a profile and all data? (No!)

Review this tab frequently. Change your password every 30 days or so. Make sure you don’t see linked accounts. As you get friend requests, maybe call friendly candidates and confirm? Looking for old friends? Use existing email addresses or phone numbers and ask them to send you the friend request. Ask them to send the exact URL of their profile (e.g., http://www.facebook.com/traenky). Research known friends’ profiles, friends of you both; you might find exact links to missing friends.

This tab has useful options! Consider enabling login notifications (different from the Notifications tab). Review your list of active connections, closing any old ones (or reviewing odd sessions initiated from strange locations).

Networks Tab

Use this tab as a way to find and then stop membership in any Facebook networks.

Notifications Tab

These are great ways to get Facebook event updates. Of course, how much information you want depends on your security needs.

Mobile Tab

This is a great way to get real-time updates and notifications on your mobile device.

Payments Tab

This is a great way to check on your purchases, to make sure all were authorized by you. Do you need another reason to use strong passwords?

Facebook Ads Tab

Taken from the write-up, “Allow ads on platform pages to show my information to…” I like setting this to No One. Maybe you are more comfortable being a spokesperson?

Account security is the important start. Remember, a poor password choice undercuts all other settings.

Privacy Security

If your cousin is fleeing an abusive spouse, should your profile give a link to your cousin’s location, maybe to Friends of Friends? Privacy settings can help control unintended sharing.

Sharing on Facebook Section

Review Figure 1; this lists the basic Privacy settings you’ll make. For maximum flexibility, choose Customize Settings (see Figure 4). This allows you to choose the Only Me role. The Preview My Profile button allows you to review your changes, including testing the access named individuals get.

Figure 4 Customize settings for maximum access control.

Use both of these features to confirm that access is truly restricted (see Figure 5).

Figure 5 How to test your access control, one example at a time.

Making Apps, Games, and Websites More Private Section

The Apps and Websites section (see Figure 6) allows you to control apps’, games’, and websites’ access to your data. Much of your profile is made available as you—or your friends—use these partner resources.

Figure 6 Apps, Games and Websites Privacy options

Let me provide as example. I use an app that rates movies. In the Apps You Use section of the Apps, Games, and Websites page, I can see all apps and even remove them. I can list the information the app accessed (see Figure 7).

Figure 7 Profile information I gave a Facebook partner, researching “The Little Fockers.”

Of course, the app can only access information provided to Everyone. Still, I clicked the Remove link; I can look up movies without broadcasting personal and friend information to advertisers.

Info Accessible Through Your Friends Section

You can control what information is accessible through friends (see Figure 8), which is a welcome improvement. However, how many people know these settings exist?

Figure 8 Control your information given to Apps.

Here again, it is important to see what information you’ve made available to Everyone, if any of it is sensitive. Be sure to read my blogs to learn what might be “sensitive.”

Hiding Game and app Activity

Maybe your high scores are worth bragging about. Maybe your high scores were earned during work hours? Secure the information here.

Instant Personalization

This is a neat feature. It shows your friends what you have said about a movie, almost immediately. To turn off instant personalization on all partner sites, uncheck the box below the large explanation dialog box. This will prevent these partners from receiving any of your information through instant personalization, even content you have made available to everyone.

Public Search

There is too much information in public search engines, especially cached pages. Facebook offers control over this common problem. Public Search controls whether searchers will see a preview of your Facebook profile. Because some search engines cache information, some of your profile information may be available for a period of time after you turn off public search. If you disable Public Search, people are less likely to see your Facebook profile.

Once you’ve completed these security settings, you can configure your Block Lists. Here you can block users, invites, event invites, and apps. These are all self-explanatory. When struggling with harassing behavior, this section will help limit rude activity.

These settings begin the Facebook Security Journey…

(No one can tell you the correct security settings, but Facebook itself can offer more security help.)

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