Protecting your Facebook account – what you need to know

With the recent Facebook-related news in the media, you may be wondering how you can protect your Facebook account and information.  If you’re not quite sure where to start, and in honour of Privacy Awareness Week, here are some tips to consider:

  1. Start by completing the Facebook Privacy Check Up – the Check Up walks you through three steps, so you can better control:
    1. Who sees your posts: limit your audience to your Friends, Specific Friends, Friends except some individuals, or even just yourself. Some people like to post on Facebook so they can record special moments and then be reminded about them in the future through Facebook’s “memories” – by setting the audience to just yourself, you can take advantage of these benefits, while still protecting your privacy.   You can also easily change your audience whenever you post using the audience selector tool (it usually appears below where you would post a status update or share a picture).
    2. Which apps have access to your information: when you log into apps using your Facebook account, you may be granting the app and its developers access to your data – including your name, city, birthdate, pictures, likes, friends lists and more.   By completing this step you can review which apps you do and do not wish to grant information access to. Note that app developers are only able to request data you have shared with them if you are an avid user (ie. have used the app in the last 3 months).
    3. The degree to which your profile information is shared publically: your profile information may include contact information (phone number, email etc.), birthday, places you’ve lived, work and education information, family members, and more. Review it to ensure you are comfortable with the information included in your profile, and delete information that isn’t necessary to share. Adjust who can see your profile information according to your preferences.
  2. Check your Privacy Settings (select Settings and then click on Privacy): in addition to some of the controls described above, here you can also control how you can be found and contacted. For instance, you can limit who can send you Friends Requests (everyone, or Friends of Friends) and whether or not you want search engines (other than Facebook) to link to your profile.
  3. Review your Friends List: with organizations such as Facebook, Twitter and others publically sharing stats about the number of fake accounts on their networks, it’s wise to limit your friends to people who you know in real life. This way you are not putting your profile and other information at risk by sharing it with strangers.

If you’re curious to know what information Facebook has about you, you may wish to download a copy of your ‘archive’ – it will include anything you’ve posted (statuses, photos, videos, comments), messages you’ve sent, apps you’ve used, ads you’ve clicked on and more.  Access this file by clicking on Settings, and then under General Account Settings you will see a link that says “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”

For more tips on protecting your privacy and ensuring your safety online, download the TELUS Wise tipsheet.