There was report this week that indicated 93% of Facebook Profiles are not secure (sample size 2713 of users between 18 and 65 and on average users reported that they don’t really even know approximately 42% of the people on their friend list.) This might seem somewhat surprising given how often there seem to be malware attacks and rogue applications that can hijack your account with the click. But on the other hand, with all the different account and privacy settings that Facebook currently has, it’s not really that surprising. A more relevant study might look at what percent of Facebook users even understand how to make their Facebook profile more secure.
Facebook made several changes and additions in 2010 to their privacy settings and in 2011, there have been even a few more…all under the guise that these changes would help simplify how to use Facebook’s privacy settings. In this post, I will cover some of the important Facebook privacy and account settings that you should know about.
Enabling HTTPS for Secure Connection on Facebook
If you have had your account hacked or know someone who has had their account hacked, then you may want to consider enabling HTTPS on your account to prevent this from happening. This setting is not part of the Privacy settings but can be found in “Account Settings.” In the upper right corner, click on the drop down for “Account” and select “Account Settings.” This will take you to the account settings page and you will automatically be on the “Settings” tab. Scroll down to “Account Security” and click on “Change.”
Here is what you will see:
Check the box for “Secure Browsing (https) to make sure that you are using Facebook on a secure connection whenever possible. Keep in mind this may slow down your browsing a bit but it is one way to increase your protection. While you’re here, you may want to consider checking the box below that one as well to receive an email each time a new computer or mobile device logs into your account. This setting is meant to be a way to notify you if someone has logged into your account without your permission or knowledge.
Facebook Places: Checking In
Facebook Places was introduced last year which allows users to check in at a location via their smartphone and it posts to their profile. It also posts to the Places page for that location. You will want to consider who will be able to see when you can check in somewhere. To find this setting, go to “Privacy Settings” under “Account” in the upper right hand corner. Within Privacy Settings, click on “Customize Settings.” Scroll down until you see this:
Here you can determine what level you want to allow for who can see when you check in via Facebook Places. Within the “Custom- edit” setting you can set it so to “Only Me” or to one of your Friend lists or to specific certain people you want to hide it from. You will also want to decide whether your profile shows up in the “People Here Now” feature after you check in somewhere. This means that when you check in somewhere, then others who also check in at that location can see you are checked in there as well or not depending on if you have this box checked (the check box is under the drop down menu in the image above.) Again, this depends on how much privacy you want for when you check in some where. For people who use Facebook Places to find out if their friends are at a location or for the purposes of meeting up with others, then they will want to check this box.
Another Facebook Places setting to consider is whether or not you want to allow friends to also check in you at Places. The main consideration to keep in mind with this setting is whether you trust all of your Facebook friends since if you leave this setting enabled, then any of your Facebook friends can check you in with them whether you are with them or not.
This setting is just a little lower than the last one under “Things Other Share.” You can click the drop down box for “Enabled” or “Disabled.”
Keeping Your Contact Info Private
Every now and then you will see a flurry of posts by your Facebook friends about how Facebook has made your phone number public or how they are giving everyone access to your email address. One way to ensure others on Facebook can’t see your phone number is simply to not add it to your profile. However, there are other contact settings to consider setting to private as well.
You can find this within your Privacy Settings and it will list all of the contact information you have listed within your profile. You have the option of setting these to Everyone, Friends of Friends, Only Friends, and then custom which includes “Only Me” or the option to set it to specific Friend Lists and to exclude certain people.
If you want to remove any of this information from your profile permanently, then go to your Profile page and click on the “Edit Profile” button and then click on “Contact Information” in the menu on the left.
To find this setting, you need to go to “Privacy Settings” and then at the bottom, go to “Apps and Websites” and click “Edit your settings.” At the bottom of the App and Websites Settings page is the button for the settings for Instant Personalization. Facebook’s explanation is that this setting allows you to see relevant information about your friends when you go to certain websites. But these settings are also about your friends being able to see this information about you when you go to these sites. When you click on “Edit Settings,” then Facebook has a pop up with video that is meant to explain to you more about Instant Personalization. You have to click the “Close” button for this window to get to the Instant Personalization settings.
Info Accessible to Your Friends
The last setting I want to cover is also within Privacy Settings->Apps and Websites. This is the setting for checking what information you will allow to be shared when your friends use Apps and Websites when your friends use them. To edit this, click on the Edit Settings button next to “Info Accessible to Your Friends.”
In my opinion, it’s probably a good idea to uncheck most of these boxes as there’s no real utility to you to have your information shared by your friend’s actions.
Facebook also offers an in-depth explanation on how to control what you share by clicking here (while logged into Facebook.)
Category: Facebook Security