Facebook can help you reach and maintain contacts with family, friends, get information on where to get assistance, and so on. However, there are some risks to you when you use Facebook, for instance your public interactions may put you and your loved ones at risk.

This article aims at providing few tips to help you maintain safety and control over your information while using Facebook.

Note: Facebook is forever changing the way it operates to protect its users, so do remember that the below may change over time.

STEP 1 – Select strong account security settings and notifications

  • Change your password: Passwords should be easy for you to remember but hard for someone else to figure out. For extra security, your Facebook password should be different than the passwords you use to log into other accounts, like your email or bank account. You can find more security tips for creating passwords by clicking here.

Click here to learn how to change or reset your password on Facebook. After you change your password, make sure not to share it with anyone else!

  • Set up unrecognized login notifications: You can improve the security of your Facebook account by getting an alert when someone tries logging in from a device or web browser you don't recognize. These alerts will tell you which device tried logging in and where it's located.

Click here to learn how to enable alerts about unrecognized logins.

  • Turn on two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security feature that helps protect your Facebook account in addition to your password. If you set up two-factor authentication, you'll be asked to enter a special login code or confirm your login attempt each time someone tries accessing Facebook from a browser or mobile device you don't recognize.

Click here to learn how to enable two-factor authentication.

  • Check where you’re logged in: If you have accidentally left yourself logged into your Facebook account on a device that can be accessed by your family, lost a device, or sold one on without logging out of Facebook, you may want to review which devices are logged in and do something about it. To log out of Facebook on another computer, phone or tablet:

  • Go to your Security and Login Settings by clicking here.

  • Go to the section Where You're Logged In. You may have to click See More to see all of the sessions where you're logged in.
  • Find the session you want to end. Click and then click Log Out.

Visit the Facebook Help Center to keep your account secure.

STEP 2 – Take control of your privacy settings

Something that’s shared as public on Facebook is public information and can be seen by anyone. That includes people who aren’t your friends, people off of Facebook and people who use other sites on the Internet. If you are unsure of what your profile looks like, follow the instructions at this link to see what your profile looks like to others.

If you do not feel comfortable with having a lot of information publicly displayed, you can change your settings to control who can see what you share. Here below are some tips for you to take control over your privacy settings. However, please keep in mind that regardless of the privacy settings you select, Facebook still has access to your data, including information on content you post, your connections and networks, as well as your usage of Facebook. You can learn more about the Facebook Policy Data here.

  • Lock your profile up: In certain countries, Facebook allow to lock profiles in order to show a limited view of their profile content to people they are not friends with on Facebook.

Locking your profile means that only your friends will see photos and posts on your profile, including full size profile picture or cover photo, as well as your stories, posts and photos.

Learn more here about what it means to lock your profile and how to do it.

If you can’t or don’t want to lock your profile, you can still control your privacy in other ways through your privacy settings.

  • Choose who can see your basic information on Facebook: You can edit your basic personal information on Facebook (for example: gender, contact info, relationships, work, education). Click here to learn more on how to edit basic info on your Facebook profile.

Learn more here on audience options available for Facebook.

  • Limit the visibility of your About section: If you have something in your About section that you don’t want to share, here’s what you can do:

  • From your profile page, click on the Edit Profile

  • Then, click on the Edit your About Info Toggle off any item you don’t want to share on your profile. Better still, you can remove that information entirely by deleting it or by reducing the audience and selecting the Only me option.

Here you can find Facebook instructions as well.

You should be aware that some details, such as your name and cover photo, cannot be given limited visibility under any circumstances.

  • Hide my pages likes on Facebook: If you want to make your liked pages private on Facebook and stop them from showing up on your timeline, and you want to prevent non-friends or even friends from knowing which pages you like, you can hide your liked pages by categories. For example, if you don't want people to know which movies you have liked, then you can simply click the audience selector next to the Movies category and change its privacy to Only Me to hide it from everyone.

The following are steps to hide your likes on Facebook:

  1. Sign into your Facebook account and head to your timeline by clicking on your name.
  2. Click the More section underneath your cover photo, then select Likes from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click the icon to the far right of Likes then to select Edit the Privacy of Your Likes.
  4. Click on the audience selector next to each category (which appears normally as a globe icon) and choose Only Me to hide them from everyone.
  5. Press the Close button to finish adjusting your liked pages privacy.

And now all your likes are hidden from everyone except yourself. Click here to learn more.

  • Select people who can see what you share on Facebook: Facebook offers a number of options to allow you to choose who sees your status updates, photos or posts you share, and even some information on your profile.

For instance, you can:

  • Choose a new audience for one of your past posts.
  • Change who can see all of your past posts to Friends at one time with Limit Past Posts. This function only controls the audience for posts you've shared. If you've been tagged in someone else's post, they control the audience for their posts.

Visit the Facebook Help Center to learn more on how to choose who can see past posts on your timeline.

  • Choose who can post on your profile: When a friend tags you in a post on Facebook, it automatically appears on your profile. If you want to review all posts (including friends' posts) before they appear on your profile, you need to turn on Timeline Review.

Learn more on how to turn on Timeline Review by clicking here.

Keep in mind, if someone you're not friends with tags you in a post, you'll be prompted to review it to appear on your profile, even if you don't have Timeline Review turned on.

You can learn more on tagging on Facebook here, and check out your current options in the Profile and tagging section.

  • Control who can look you up and find your profile: You may also want to limit how people can find your Facebook. You must know that everyone, except people you've blocked, can search for you and click on your profile, but what they can see about you in search results depends on what's shared with them. To adjust your settings:

  • Click in the top right of Facebook.

  • Select Settings & Privacy, then click Settings.
  • Click Privacy on the left. Below the How People Find and Contact You section, you'll see a setting for your email and a setting for your phone number:
  • To update your email setting, click Edit to the right of Who can look you up using the email address you provided?
  • To update your phone number setting, click Edit to the right of Who can look you up using the phone number you provided?
  • Select who can look you up using that info (example: Friends).

If you don’t want search engines outside of Facebook to link directly to your profile, you can adjust this setting from your privacy setting too. Make sure you select the NO option when editing the Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile? Section.

Turning this off only controls if a search engine will link to your profile in a search engine's search results. Information from your profile can still appear in search engine results because it is information you shared to a public audience or posts and comments you shared on pages or public groups.

Learn more on how to control who can find you on Facebook by clicking here.

  • Manage your location privacy: Your location can be shared in various ways: with apps, by checking-in, via private messages, or by someone else tagging you. It’s important to carefully consider when you share your location and with whom and to take measures to protect your location when possible. To learn more about location privacy on Facebook, click here.

STEP 3 – Define a trusted community

  • Limit who can contact you through Facebook, and friend people who you know and trust: Unfortunately, some individuals use tactics such as impersonating a friend to gain access to personal information. Before accepting a friend request, look at the profile to check if you know the person and if you have friends in common. If you receive a friend request from someone you are already friends with, ask if they sent the new request before accepting it. If they didn’t create it, report the impersonating profile to Facebook.

Remember you can control who can friend or follow you on Facebook. You’ll want to change that from Everyone to Friends of friends. Learn more on how to change these settings by clicking here.

Unfortunately, there’s no option to completely disable friend requests, although you may want to choose who can see your friends list on your profile. You can find instructions here on how to do it.

  • Unfriend or block people that are bothering you on Facebook: Removing or blocking someone from your friend list will respectively prevent them from posting on your timeline, and from contacting you through Messenger or Facebook chat. Learn more here.

What else it’s important to know?

Think before sharing on FB: When you put anything or social media, you are posting something that has the potential to become public. Before sharing content or liking a page or a post on Facebook, it’s important for you to always stop and think whether your action can be harmful for yourself or your family. While it may seem like the information is being shared with only your friends and family, it can also be shared with hackers and scammers who troll the social media sites. Learn more here.

You also need to pay attention to messages you receive on Facebook and the content you see on others’ timelines. Malicious actors are always looking for a way to trick their victims. This can often be something benign, such as getting you to like a ridiculous post or replying to a message containing fake news. Much like with your email account, bad actors may send malware links or phishing messages via Facebook. It’s common for hackers to take over Facebook accounts and send such messages to everyone in the victim’s friends list. As ever, if a link looks suspicious, don’t click on it and remember that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

What to do in case things go wrong?

If you think your account has been hacked or taken over, you can visit HaveIBeenPwned to confirm this. If your account has been compromised and you cannot log in, you can report this at: https://www.facebook.com/hacked/

Find here more information on how you can secure your account after it has been hacked.

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