It has become clear that privacy is becoming extinct.  The challenge we face now is not keeping privacy alive but protecting what is important to us in a social media world.  When it was learned that Cambridge Analytica misused information obtained from the 14 billion user population of Facebook, everyone went looking for a way to survive.  The strange thing is users were not looking to delete their information or their account, but instead were simply looking for another way to feel safe while keeping their Facebook footprint in place.

It is important to remember that you are already exposed.  I am not just talking about the Facebook situation, but a lot of your personal information is already exposed to the world and guess what… YOU VOLUNTEERED IT.  The breaches of Target, Sony, and Equifax were just the reported breaches, you volunteer your information all the time now because we conduct our personal business online which continues to put us at risk.  So we need to become more vigilant and understand the risks that are looking to us to target bigger fish.

Now, Facebook is still under fire and they are making users more aware of the security settings you can apply to secure your account.  Additionally, there are new plugins being added to browsers like Firefox which are designed to prevent this type of tracking… but what should you do today to ensure you are safe?

  1. Backup your account.  Within the Facebook settings, is an option to download your account data.  This includes posts, photos, videos, interests and conversations you had using Facebook messenger.  To download your account information…- In Facebook Access your Settings Option.

    – Once there, you will see an option to Download your Facebook Data 
    – After you click the download link you will have the option to start the archive process.  When you click the green button, you will be informed that the archive process has begun and you will be emailed a link once the archive is ready to be downloaded.

This is the first step.  Finding what you have and securing it… next is to clean it up.  What I would recommend next is a review of your current settings.  Determine what information is exposed and who you have exposed it to.  In order to figure this out, you will need to use the far left side of the settings area in Facebook.

Start with Security and Login.

  • I would recommend changing your password if you haven’t changed it in the last 90 days.
  • I would also review the devices that have logged into your account. If the devices don’t look familiar use the option to secure your account.
  • Under the login option, turn off the option to login with your profile picture.
  • If you are concerned about someone other than you is trying to access your account, you can choose to get alerts about unrecognized logins.  If the concern is so great that you need added strength to your login, you can use two factor authentication that requires not only your password but a passcode that is sent to your phone.

Now that your Security and Login have been reviewed, let’s move on to your activity.

  1. Click on the Privacy option on the left.
  2. Determine who you trust to see your posts… most of the time you share your posts with friends only.
  3. OPTIONAL – Now you can review your activity log and review the posts you have on your timeline.
  4. OPTIONAL – If you want to limit those who can see your past posts, you can change this option.
  5. Friend requests are tough.  You want to build a solid friendship group, but you also want it to be trustworthy.  If you are not interested in friend requests and want to maintain the group you have you can adjust this option.  If you choose to keep it set to everyone, you should remember to review each request to ensure the requester is who they say they are.
  6. Your friends list is similar to your address book.  How important is it to you and would you trust it in the hands of another person?  You may want to keep your friends list set so you are the only one who can see it and only mutual friends can see each other on your facebook page.
  7. If you are concerned about your email and phone number, then #7 and #8 should be restricted to your friends at most.
  8. You probably don’t want your phone number or email address exposed to everyone on Facebook.
  9. To keep your information out of the search engine game, you can prevent it from being searched outside of Facebook.
  10. You should also consider removing or clearing your invite history.  To access this information you can use this link.

From here you should review the settings of your timeline and tagging so you can ensure that only you are posting to your account.

The last setting I would adjust at least for now is the Facial Recognition settings.  Since facial recognition can be faked with a picture, I would turn this option off.

There are many settings within Facebook and you should take some time to review them.  If you are using Facebook from a mobile app on your smartphone there are a couple of things you should also consider.

  1. Turn off your location services for the App.  No one really cares that you are checking in somewhere – other than criminals who are hoping you are not home.
  2. You should consider removing access to your phone contacts.

If you are heavily engaged with social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others, you should consider reviewing the security settings of those applications.  Protect what is important to you… and that starts with YOU.

Good Luck.