Protect Your Privacy and Safety on Facebook

General Facebook Use Tips

  1. Think carefully about everything you upload or type into Facebook.
    Criminals and predators may be interested in your Facebook activity and use it against you.
    • Do not share your whereabouts or plans to go somewhere at a certain time.
    • Be vague with basic profile information, such as your hometown, employer, birth date, and contact information. Set the audience for this information to Friends or Only Me. (See #6 in Facebook Privacy Control Tips.)
  2. Check your active Facebook sessions frequently to prevent unauthorized use of your account.
    If you left Facebook on at another location, you can end the session remotely from the Security tab of Account Settings. If you notice unfamiliar locations or devices, change your password immediately.
  3. Review the conditions before running Facebook apps and games.
    As soon as you run them, Facebook games and apps can access your name, gender, profile picture, and friend list. They often seek permission to gain access to messages and photos from your friends or the ability to post from your account. Apps and games may affect both you and your friends' privacy. (See #4 in How to Use Facebook's Privacy Controls.)
  4. Use the app specific privacy controls.
    Many apps collect data beyond what is necessary for them to function on Facebook. Go to Account Settings and click on the Applications tab, where you can view the app's access logs, revoke an app's access to certain data, and remove an app.
  5. If you use the Facebook mobile app on your Blackberry or iPhone, consider disabling location tracking, which identifies your geographic location.
    • On Blackberry: Options in the Facebook app.
    • On the iPhone: Location Services within Settings.
  6. Consider receiving e-mail or text message login notifications.
    This will alert you whenever your account is accessed from a new computer or mobile device. Sign up in the Security tab of Account Settings. If you choose to receive other notifications by text message, make sure Share my phone number with my friends is not selected.
  7. You can always deactivate or delete your account.
    Deactivating your account makes your profile temporarily inaccessible to everyone. However, Facebook retains your profile information so you can resume activity at a later date. If you wish to make your profile inaccessible forever, delete your account here.

Facebook Privacy Control Tips

  1. Turn off Public Search to remove your profile from search engine results, like Google.
    Go to Privacy Settings. Scroll down to Ads, Apps and Websites and click Edit Settings. Click Edit Settings next to Public search. Uncheck Enable public search.
  2. Set the audience for all previous wall posts to just Friends.
    In Privacy Settings, click Manage Past Post Visibility next to Limit the Audience for Past Posts. The switch to timeline made some previously inaccessible posts widely available.
  3. Disable the tag suggest feature in your privacy settings.
    This will prevent Facebook from automatically recognizing your face in you and your friends' photos. It will also delete your facial recognition data. Change the setting for Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded? to No one.
  4. Shield your information from your friends' apps.
    In Ads, Apps and Websites settings, click Edit Settings next to How people bring your info to apps they use. A window will pop up with a list of information available to your friends' apps. Leave only categories you are willing to share with apps checked.
    • Consider turning off all apps. You can still use your apps, but you won't be able to interact with your friends in them.
  5. Consider disabling Instant Personalization.
    Facebook has partnered with select websites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor to personalize your visits. When you are logged into Facebook, these sites can use any of your public information, such as your birth date, gender, and profile picture. To turn this default feature off, go to the Ads, Apps and Websites settings and click Edit Settings next to Instant personalization. Uncheck Enable instant personalization on partner websites.
  6. Individualize your audience.
    To "hide" a wall post from some or all of your friends, click the audience icon to the top right of the post. Your options are Public (public), Friends (friends), Only Me (me only) or Custom (custom). Note that Friends will also include the Friends of anyone tagged in the post. Avoid the Public and Friends of Friends (available for photos) option. You can also restrict access to other parts of your profile, such as tagged photos. See detailed instructions here.
  7. Check how your page appears to others at least once a month.
    Click View As… on the top right of your profile/timeline page.

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What to Do When…

I have been tagged in a photo I do not want others to see.

  • Click Remove Tag to remove the photo from your profile.
  • Remember, only friends can tag you in photos. If a friend persistently tags you in undesirable photos, consider unfriending him or her.
  • Facebook only removes content that violates its Terms and Policies (mainly copyright infringement and pornography). Still, report instances of graphic photos, bullying, harassment, and threats anonymously by clicking Report This Photo or in Facebook's Help Center. Note that this does not guarantee its removal.

I am receiving unwanted messages.

  • Limit who can search for your profile and remove the ability to send you messages through a search listing in Search Privacy. See also #1 in Facebook Privacy Controls.
  • Block the sender in the Blocked People and Apps section of Privacy Settings.
  • Report spam in Facebook's Help Center.

I am being threatened, bullied, or harassed on Facebook.

  • Such activity may violate Facebook's Terms. Click Report next to the message, post, or photo. You will remain anonymous. If you do not have a Facebook account, you can report an imposter account here.
  • See also Tips for Parents to Protect Children on Facebook.
  • You should also document the harassment and call the police.

My Facebook Friend is asking for money or personal information (i.e., phone numbers, addresses, friends' names) through Facebook.

  • Someone might be using your Friend's account to conduct a phishing scam― posing as your friend in order to solicit your personal information. Confirm your Friend's identity before continuing the conversation. Request to speak on the phone or in person.
  • Be wary of statements presenting knowledge of you. A scammer might use information from your profile.
  • Report scams in Facebook's Help Center.

For more detailed instructions, visit the following resources:

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