Facebook Privacy Check Time: 6 Settings You Should Inspect Right Now

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Facebook isn’t known for its incredible privacy practices, so you might want to take matters into your own hands.

Sarah Tew / CNET

When was the last time you checked your Facebook account and your privacy settings? If you never or can’t remember the last time you performed a privacy check, now is the time. In fact, I suggest doing one every two months (it helps to set a reminder in your calendar app). This will help you keep up with the constant changes Facebook is making and will help you keep an eye out for random apps you are granting access to your information.

Facebook, after all, is one of the biggest monopolists of our personal data online. For this reason, our private information is a prime target for potential bad actors. Accessing your information does not always mean directly accessing your account due to the wrong password. Instead, as we learned a few years ago from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, approving a malicious app can do just as much damage.

So while I have your attention and you are thinking about it, take a few minutes to secure your facebook Account. I recommend that you follow the steps outlined below on a computer, not your phone. It makes it easy to read all the relevant information while you make adjustments. Read on to learn how to set a strong password, limit how others can search for you, and prevent Facebook from keeping your location history.


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Use a strong password and two-factor authentication

The first thing to do to secure your Facebook account is to create a strong password and activate two-factor authentication. It may seem obvious, but the importance cannot be overstated. You’ll also want to make sure you’re not using the same password for crucial accounts like your banking app. Use a password manager to create and, most importantly, remember your unique passwords (these are our top picks for the best password manager). Go to the Security page and change your password.

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Strong passwords and two-factor authentication are extremely important.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Once you have a new password, turn on two-factor authentication. With 2FA enabled, you will need to enter your secure password and a randomly generated code each time you log into your account. (You really should use 2FA on each account and service that supports it.)

Most password managers also have the ability to store your two-factor authentication codes. However, you can still use Google Authenticator to store and give access to your codes if necessary.

Privacy settings and tools

Take the time to go through each Facebook privacy setting and tailor it to your liking.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Go through privacy settings and tools

Facebook has a dedicated privacy section for your account. In this section, you can do things like set the default privacy setting for future posts, control who can send you friend requests, and decide what information people can use to find your account.

Go through each option on the privacy settings and tools page and adjust each one as you like. I suggest setting your future messages to “Friends” and limiting the phone number and email address search options to “Friends” or “Me only” to ensure that anyone with any part of your personal information cannot find your account.

Remove past messages from the public eye

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It is not known what kind of personal information you shared several years ago on Facebook. Limit past posts to prevent this information from being public.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

The way we use social media has changed a lot, especially as we become more aware of how Facebook and those on Facebook can use our personal information.

Fortunately, you can prevent your previous posts from being visible to anyone who might come across your profile.

Go to the Privacy section and find Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or the public? and click on it. Then click on the button labeled Limit the latest posts. Facebook will then convert anything you have already shared publicly or with friends of friends so that it is only visible to your friends, thus limiting who can see it.

It is an all or nothing parameter. This means that you cannot choose which posts you want to edit through this setting. If you want to do this, you’ll have to manually go through your timeline and make these changes individually.

Audit devices with access to your account

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You might be surprised at how many devices have access to your Facebook account.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Over the years, we have all logged into our Facebook accounts on different phones, computers, tablets and various other devices. Facebook keeps a log of which devices have access to your account and makes it easy to revoke access to a malicious device or a device that you forgot to sign out of.

Display a list of all these devices under the Where you are connected section of the Security and Login page. If you have multiple devices, click See more to see the whole list. To remove a device from the list, click the three-dot icon to the right of the device name, then Sign out. You will be asked whether or not you want all messages from this device to be deleted from your account as well; a handy feature if someone has gained access to your account and posted without your permission.

You can also log out of each device linked to your account by clicking on See more > Disconnect from all sessions at the bottom of the list. I found a few devices from 2012 that still had access to my account when writing this article – yikes. As a result, I signed out of all devices to start with a clean slate. The few seconds I will spend reconnecting each time I use a device that has been revoked are well worth the peace of mind.

Don’t forget to browse the apps with access

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Keeping an eye on apps with access to your Facebook account is just smart.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

In the same vein, we have all granted countless applications access to our Facebook account. Over time, some applications are discontinued by developers and end up becoming a security risk. If someone accesses the app’s user database, they could – in theory – access certain features and information stored in your Facebook account.

Visit the Apps & Websites page to view active apps that have access to your account. If you have an expired app, like I do in the screenshot above, or apps that you no longer want to keep access to your Facebook account, click the button To delete button to the right of the application name.

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Don’t let Facebook track your location.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Deactivate, delete the location history on your phone

Facebook uses its access to your phone’s location data to create a map of your location history. You can delete your location history here, or if you’d rather have Facebook not store your location history at all, you can turn off location history on this same page.

On an Android phone, open the Facebook app, then tap the three-line icon. Under Settings and privacy to select Privacy shortcuts followed by Manage your location settings on the privacy card. Then select Position history > View your location history and enter your account password when prompted. Finally, tap on the three dots icon in the upper right corner and select Delete all location history.

The process is similar on an iPhone. Open the Facebook app and tap the three-line icon, then Settings and privacy then select Privacy shortcuts followed by Manage your location settings on the privacy card. To select Position history > View your location history and enter your account password when prompted. Finally, tap on the three dots icon in the upper right corner and select Delete all location history.

Not sure you even want to use Facebook? You can Delete your account, but it does require some planning on your part. If you just can’t get away from Facebook for whatever reason, here are some tips for secure your data.


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