If you’ve never adjusted your Facebook security settings it’s likely that this information, which you may deem private to a greater or lesser extent, has been open and available to the entire internet. But naturally the next question is whether or not that login provides us with any security at all.
Just how much does the world know about you online?
When the seedy underbelly of web 1.0 first gave rise to social media, our initial concerns were not that of security, but rather over the preferred wallpaper of our new MySpace page. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. No longer are future Arctic Monkeys and Lilly Allens gaining notoriety through this medium, instead, users are having their accounts hacked by people across the world.
If you take a minute to glance at your last seven or so years of online documentation in the form of your Facebook account, you may be surprised at just how much your friends (or even complete strangers) actually know about you.
It’s recently become public knowledge that in 2012 Facebook conducted a study in which they manipulated the newsfeeds of roughly 689 000 users. Known at the contagion study, users were subjected to either happy or sad status updates in an attempt to understand how their own status updates would be affected. It turns out that we are indeed affected by what we read on our newsfeeds, furthermore, our own status updates mirror that which we are subjected to.
Whilst many believe that what Facebook did was within the bounds of what users have agreed to in the terms and conditions, Perhaps it’s time to consider how comfortable we are with internet companies experimenting with our emotions. Every internet company runs tests in order to better their products, so it’s time to understand what these companies can and cannot do to their users under the guise of research.
Take back ownership of your personal information
You may not be able to protect yourself from every eventuality, there are still some very important steps that everyone should take in order to protect themselves and their personal information as much as possible.
Start by reading Facebook’s terms and data use (privacy) policy to understand what information Facebook gathers about you and how it uses your information.
Next, take the time to personalise your Facebook security settings. Go through each and every setting:
1. General settings are the most basic settings. Here you can change your name, password and the language you access Facebook in.
2. Security settings help you identify whether someone else is logging into your account and implement extra security processes to prevent this from happening. Should someone manage to make their way into your account, you will be able to find a log of when they accessed your account and from what type of browser they may have gained entry from. These are definitely the most important settings.
3. Privacy settings and tools enable you to get really specific about who sees your posts, contact you and find you. If you’ve ever had a stalker or just a creepy ex; this is a great place to make sure they can’t even find you on Facebook.
4. In the timeline and tagging settings you can define which of your friends can see and add things onto your timeline, and also manage your tags. There’s always an awkward photo which, no matter how confident we think we are, we just HAVE to untag.
5. Manage blocking allows you to block everything from users to apps and invites. You can even block app invites; no doubt that will come in handy!
6. Notifications can be customised too. You can ensure that you get no notifications, or only specific one as well as how you get them, be it via email or sms.
7. You may have been unaware, but your mobile settings too can be adjusted. Facebook can use your number to send you SMS updates or notifications and even Facebook messages.
8. You can be particular about your followers, either allowing everyone to follow you or only your friends. This simply means that they will be able to see your posts in their newsfeed.
9. App Settings helps you specify which apps are linked to your Facebook account. Bear in mind that apps have access to your friends list and any information you choose to make public, so it’s a good idea to go through this list with a fine tooth comb.
10. Facebook adverts lets you to choose whether or not you will allow third party advertising, which would include your name and profile picture visible on another site, as a personal endorsement. You can also specify whether or not you will be included in Facebook adverts aimed at friends.
11. Payments settings are adjustable, for the payment of apps etc. You can specify methods, currency and even manage subscriptions.
12. Support dashboard, is where you go to review the statuses of any reports or enquiries you have made – in case you were wondering what happened to that offensive post you reported.
Lastly and quite easily the most common mistakes people make:
Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t actually know… Obviously.
Don’t show any of your contact details on your profile such as your phone number or home address… obviously.
For the most part, your Facebook account is only as safe as you make it. There will always be the looming threat of hackers and just general creeps, but so long as you keep yourself informed, up to date and aware of security concerns regarding your Facebook account, you should survive.