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Facebook security 101


September 6, 2013
By Stephane Laverdiere DC

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Facebook has changed the way we communicate, the way we share experiences with others and even the way we work.

Facebook has changed the way we communicate, the way we share experiences with others and even the way we work. This revolutionary communication portal allows us to stay up to date with our friends’ daily lives, play games together and talk about the latest trends. 

But do you ever wonder whom you can really trust on your friends list and what others outside of your friends list can learn about you? 

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Before you start posting those photos of your children at the beach, perhaps it’s time to think about improving your Facebook security. Our handy guide tells you all you need to know about securing your account and keeping your personal data safe. 

Start with the basics
There is no need for you to share any personal data on Facebook if you do not want to. In fact, the only part of your life that needs to be shared is the name on your account — and even this can be a pseudonym if you don’t want to use your real name. There is no valid reason why you need to publish your phone number, hometown, address or marital status. And yet millions have this personal data plastered all over their profiles. The advice here is to treat your personal details with discretion. 

Privacy settings: give access to the right people
A major headache with Facebook security is that it all looks so unnecessarily complicated. But all it really takes to secure your Facebook account is a few clicks in the right place and you are done. 

The privacy settings on your account determine who can see what based on their status.  For example, you may want to lock down everything so only your friends can view your profile. Or you might want to advertise your profile to the entire world. Think about this setting very carefully, paying attention to the type of information and photos you are likely to post. Do you really want them on public display? 

To lock down your privacy settings you will need to log in to your account. Click on the gear icon to the right of Home and select Privacy Settings. Look under “Who can see my stuff?”/ “Who can see your future posts?” You will now be given three options: Public, Friends and Custom. Public is exactly as the name suggests and shares your profile with the world. Changing this to Friends ensures only your friends can view what is on your profile. That includes status updates and photos. Now might also be a great time to have a bit of a “friend cull” and get rid of some of those unsavoury or unstable characters we all seem to pick up along the way.

But wait, there’s more to be done here…

What a lot of people don’t realize is these privacy settings only protect posts and photos from the moment you change your privacy settings. All of your older posts, photos and status updates will be visible to all and sundry. To ensure all of your older posts are covered by your new privacy settings, click Manage Past Post Visibility and click Limit Past Posts. 

Defining how others connect with you: be found or stay incognito? 
Even though you have locked down your profile tighter than Superman’s underpants, people will still be able to find your profile and connect with you. The next settings we need to look at are the How You Connect settings. This is quite an easy one to configure, but will depend on whether you are using Facebook for pleasure or for business use.  Most businesses will want the whole world to find and connect with them. 

Settings here define who can send you a friend request, who can find you using your e-mail address or phone number and who can search for your profile using your name. Use these settings wisely – especially if you want to avoid a friend request from that ex from years ago.

Timelines and tagging: control what your friends can say about you
While you can’t stop friends from talking about your antics at the office party in their status box, you can certainly stop them from tagging you in the incriminating party photos. You can now activate settings that ensure you are given an option to accept or reject a tag before it is published. Oh, and don’t forget about Facebook’s scary facial recognition capabilities. Turn this off so that your friends don’t receive suggestions to tag you through this feature. 

Next you may want to control who can post on your timeline, view your timeline posts or post to your friends and family, using the Timeline and Tagging link within your Facebook settings, at the left side of the screen. Again, think about the type of information you post on your timeline and whom you want to view it and respond to it. 

Kill the Candy Crush invites: change your apps settings
If you have a friend or relative who is constantly flinging Candy Crush Saga invitations your way, there is an easy way to banish them forever. By clicking on the Blocking link within your Facebook settings you can kiss goodbye those pesky app events for good by either restricting notifications from the app itself or restricting any app invites from a specific user. And it’s also here that you can block all future contact with specific friends – perfect if they have been sending you direct messages in the middle of the night about Candy Crush. 

Another caveat of using Facebook apps is that they can collect a lot of information from you. Unfortunately, many people are so excited about using an app that they will blindly click on any “share your information” button just to get to the good stuff.

The best advice is to use apps only when you absolutely have to. You can remove any old apps that you don’t use or which are sharing information about you with others. Simply click on Ads, Apps and Websites and click the Edit Settings button next to each app to review its settings. This will show you the permissions of the app and whether you need to consider removing it from your profile. That’s not to say all Facebook apps are evil. You just need to exercise caution when accepting them into your profile. 

Good old-fashioned password security
This wouldn’t have been a very good security guide if we didn’t touch on password security somewhere along the way. To ensure your Facebook security is tight, choose a password containing a mixture of digits and numbers and use a different password to that which you use for other websites. If you really want to annoy the hackers and password crackers of this world, change your password every 30 or 60 days. 

Phew, that’s quite a lot to get your head around, but in actual fact, activating these settings can take mere moments. Once locked down, your Facebook account will be a safer place for you, your views, your photos and your security in general. Of course, this isn’t the end of the story and the bad guys will formulate new ways to infiltrate your account. Our hope is Facebook’s security team will always be one step ahead with robust security updates. 


Dr. Stephane Laverdiere is a graduate of the National University of Health Sciences in Lombard, Ill., and president and cofounder of Atlas Chiropractic Systems, a paperless office solution. He is also the founder of the Internet video marketing firm, ChiroVMail. He can be contacted at slaverdiere@atlaschirosys.com or at 1-877-602-8527.


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