You’ve just posted your latest selfies, updated your email and phone number, and shared your exact whereabouts (i.e. you’re at the beach, on a hike, getting food) on Facebook! Over the years you’ve probably wished friends a happy birthday, congratulated others on their engagement , accepted tonnes of “friend” requests, and responded to chats. Unfortunately you cannot remember if you personally know everyone you’re friends with. Well, you’re not alone.
Today, people are sharing more and more of their personal lives online, especially on Facebook, which has enjoyed top popularity among social networks. However, people often forget that it’s extremely important to maintain control over who sees what — after all, just like with cybercriminals sending you spam emails with dangerous links containing viruses in order to access your personal information (and another reason why even free antivirus software is essential), you don’t know who is watching your Facebook profile or what their intentions are.
As Facebook itself has made changes to its privacy settings over the years, it’s a sign that you too should be checking whether you’re handing out your private photos and information only to those you want to see them.
Your Profile in the Eyes of a Stranger
There are some easy ways to protect your privacy. The first is to visit your Facebook profile, click your name on the blue bar on the top of the page. Click the three dots next to “View Activity Log” and then select “View As…” This will show you exactly how your non-friends see your profile. You can also choose to see your profile through the eyes of a specific friend. Click through the different sections, like photos, and see what they see. Pick a friend and see what your page looks like through their eyes. You may have some surprises in store for you.
Go into ‘Stealth Mode’
While posting on Facebook we tend to get so involved in sharing things that we forget it is personal information we are dishing out. If this bothers you (especially if you have made an effort to make your password invincible — and passwords take no time for crack for professional cybercriminals), then the first step is to make all your posts private. If, to your dismay, you discover that hundreds of your photos and statuses are public, you can quickly make them visible only to your real friends. Click the drop down arrow on the right hand side of the blue bar, go to “Settings,” “Privacy,” and select “limit past posts.” You’ll be prompted whether you’re sure you want to increase the privacy of your posts, as it’s not easy to change it back.
Make it Harder to Find You on Google
Once it was really exciting to find yourself on Google. However, if you can find yourself, so can anyone else and that’s primarily due to the information available on your Facebook account — unless you’re famous. Facebook accounts can be discovered on Google, and even if someone doesn’t know your name, they can find you with your phone number or email address. You can stop this by visiting the “Privacy” section of Settings on your Facebook page, and choosing “no” when asked “Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?” You can even select whether friends, friends of friends, or everyone can find you with your phone number and email.
Tune Your Facebook Apps’ Permissions
Most of the latest apps sync with your Facebook profile. In other words, your activity on one app might be automatically shared on your Facebook profile. However, they need permission to do this and you have the right to say “no”. We’re back in Settings — go the “Apps” section and click “Select All” to check out what permissions apps have. You may still want some of them to post on your behalf, like Instagram, but not dating apps! Click on each app to adjust the privacy settings and exactly what they are showing your Facebook friends.
Approve Tags Separately Before They Go Live
People tend to tag each other in statuses and photos without thinking twice, however you may not want everyone seeing them for personal reasons. Facebook allows you to review any posts in which you’re tagged before they go live on your timeline. But if you want a photo you’re tagged in to disappear, you need to “report” it to Facebook or ask the person who posted it to take it down. To activate Approval, go to Settings, “Timeline and Tagging” and turn on “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline.”
As with avoiding online scams — from handing over personal information on bogus websites to making sure you’re not a victim of ransomware — see Facebook as another potential gateway into your private life. Cybercriminals or anyone else with malicious intentions can access your profile to take something that is not theirs (such as money or sensitive information). Bottom line, keep your wits about you while “playing” on Facebook – better safe than sorry!