How to lock down Facebook privacy — and zip your lips

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In the current era of data mining, account hacking and identity theft, cyber-security has never been more important. And an area that many people leave insanely unprotected is social media, Facebook in particular. Crooks have begun using social media in a variety of ways, from pulling our personal information for identity theft, to paying attention to when you go on vacation in order to rob you while you’re away. And employers (even though they’re not supposed t0) ARE checking your profiles, people.

Fortunately, there are several simple steps that can be taken to lock down your Facebook account and slam the digital door in the face of would-be thieves and other prying eyes.

Settings

When logged in to your Facebook account, go to the down arrow on the right side of your notifications and requests. Choose Settings. This will take you to the Settings page, which will have several options to choose from on the left side menu.

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Step 1:  General

General Settings is the page where you can create or edit your name, username, e-mail account, password, networks and language.  It is important to know this page in the event you feel your account has been compromised or if you feel the need to change/edit your username to make it more difficult for identity thieves to search for you.

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Step 2: Security

There are several crucial settings under the Security Page. Number 1 on the list is Login Notifications. Enabling notifications ensures that you will be alerted by text or e-mail if someone logs in to your account from an unknown computer or device.

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Login approvals, code generator and app passwords all create an extra level of security, creating specialized codes which have to be entered to get into Facebook. These do require having your smartphone handy to use them, but you’re probably using Facebook FROM your phone regardless!

Trusted contacts create a list of friends who can help you get into your account if it becomes locked due to intrusion. Taking a look at your Trusted Browsers and Where You’ve Logged In are both important in not leaving an accidental back door open for crooks to come in.  Make a habit of checking this weekly and sign out of any logins – and apps (more on that in a sec) – that you don’t recognize.

And this is also where you can deactivate your account if you need to get off Facebook immediately. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.

Step 3: Privacy

This is the page most casual users will spend the most time locking down and with good reason. Strictly restricting who can see, tag, post and contact you is extremely valuable. Parents, in particular, want to pay attention to this page when setting up a Facebook account for a youngster. The rule of thumb with most of these settings will be to keep them at “Friends” – though it’s important to know that this default changes based on your last status. If, for example, your last update was “public” then your next post will default to public as well. And you DEFINITELY want to review all items you’re tagged in before they hit your wall, so turn that option on.

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Beyond that, if you realize you have public posts and want to start over, the “limit the audience for posts shared with friends of friends or public” and will make EVERYTHING on your timeline “friends only.” You can’t change back once you do it though, so proceed with caution. Your wall will suddenly appear empty to restricted users and followers.