Facebook is a labyrinth of different privacy settings, meaning it can be hard to get your Facebook account locked down just right.
We have a full privacy guide for Facebook in our post here, but if you’re confident you have your main settings right (your posts are set to friends only and you’re not sharing your full date of birth, workplace and phone number, for example) we can take a look at those pesky privacy issues that always seem to catch people out.
Facebook allows users to include up to nine photos as their featured photos. These are photos that appear near the top of the user’s profile when someone visits it.
These photos are different to other photos that a user uploads to the social networking platform. These photos are always public. Just like your profile and cover photos, it doesn’t matter how much you lock down your account, these photos are visible to strangers. All of the time.
So don’t post any photos as featured photos that you don’t want being seen (and potentially copied) by strangers. Remember, any photo that is available to the public can be seen and downloaded by the public, and potentially used and uploaded elsewhere online.
A Public Friends List
The problem with letting the public know who you’re friends with on Facebook is it makes those friends a target for Facebook cloning scammers.
All the scammer has to do is create a “duplicate” Facebook account with your name and your profile picture (both of which you can’t hide) and then head straight to your public friends list and start firing out the friend requests. Many of your friends will think it’s you, perhaps assuming you lost access to your real Facebook account, and they’ll accept.
And now they’re a potential target for any number of different scams, or the crooks could start sucking up all the information they can about your friends based on their new found ability to search through their profiles. Hide your friends list. We have an article about how to do it here.
Who can look me up with my email or phone number?
We strongly recommend changing the “Who can look me up?” options to Friends Only or Only Me. Having it set to public would allow anyone to type your email (or if you’ve given it to Facebook, your phone number) into the search bar on Facebook and finding your profile.
This isn’t good if, for example, your email is leaked in a data breach and spammers or crooks want to match that email address to more information such as your full name.
You can find these options in your main Facebook settings, and clicking on Privacy on the desktop. On the mobile app, it’s under Settings & Privacy, then Settings, then Privacy Settings.
Installing random Facebook apps
No list of common privacy mistakes would be complete without the most common of them all. Installing Facebook apps from developers we do not know or trust. Facebook apps are not developed by Facebook. They are developed by third party developers, and when we install them on our Facebook account, we allow the developers to get access to much of our information.
This includes our basic data such as name, profile picture, date of birth, relationship status and email. It can also include additional information such as a full list of all our friends.
Developers can (and often do) accumulate this data, and this can lead to that data turning up to other places on the Internet. If you trust a developer to handle your information appropriately, then that’s fine. But if you don’t trust the developer, then don’t install their app.
Remember the Cambridge Analytic scandal? That all happened because of a “IQ Test” Facebook app sucking up all the data of people who installed it.
Sponsored Content. Continued below...
Disable Facebook Location
Do you want Facebook knowing where you are every single moment of the day? The social networking platform would love you to keep this option enabled, but given their checkered history with user privacy, we’d say it is definitely not worth it. That’s why we recommend disabling this option if you use the Facebook app on your smartphone.
To disable location access, click on your main setting and click Settings & Privacy, then Settings, and under Security click Location and make sure the Location access option is set to off. Also in the Location options is Location History, which you should also disable.
You can also disable this same setting in your App’s permissions settings on your mobile device itself, though specific instructions will depend on your device.