Take 5 Minutes and Check These Facebook Privacy Settings

Facebook (and its parent company, Meta) has some issues around data privacy, and you might be wondering what you can do to better protect your personal information when using the popular social network. I suggest doing regular privacy checks every few months. This will help you keep up with the constant changes Facebook makes and help you keep tabs on random apps that you grant access to your information.

Facebook, after all, is one of the biggest online hoarders of our personal data. For this reason, our private information is a prime target for potential bad actors. Accessing your information doesn’t always mean directly accessing your account due to a bad password. Instead, as we learned a few years ago Cambridge Analytica Scandalapproving 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 relevant information while you make adjustments. Keep reading to learn how to set a strong password, limit how others can search for you, and stop 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. This 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.

Strong passwords and two-factor authentication are extremely important.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

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

Read more: Best password manager to use for 2022

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

Facebook privacy settings screen

Take the time to go through each Facebook privacy setting and tweak 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 of the options on the privacy settings and tools page and adjust each to your liking. 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 only one part of your personal information cannot find your account.

Delete past posts from the public eye

Limit Past Post Options Screen

It’s impossible to know what kind of personal information you shared years ago on Facebook. Limit past posts to prevent this information from being made 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.

Luckily, you can limit the visibility of your old posts to anyone who might stumble upon your profile.

Go to the Privacy section and find Limit the audience of posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or Public? and click on it. Then click on the button labeled Limit latest posts. Facebook will then convert anything you’ve ever shared publicly or with friends of friends to be visible only to your friends, limiting who can see it.

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

Audit devices with access to your account

Screen showing devices that have access to a Facebook account

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

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

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

View a list of all these devices under the where are you 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 click 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 accessed your account and posted without your permission.

Alternatively, you can log out of each device linked to your account by clicking See more > Log out of all sessions at the bottom of the list. I found a few devices from 2012 that still had access to my account as of this writing – yuck. I logged out of all devices to start with a clean slate. The few seconds I’ll spend logging back in every time I use a device that’s been revoked are well worth the peace of mind.

Don’t forget to browse apps with access

Screen showing applications with access to a Facebook account

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

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Along the same lines, we’ve all granted countless apps access to our Facebook account. Over time, some apps are abandoned by developers and eventually become 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 Eliminate button to the right of the application name.

Facebook logo on phone screen

Don’t let Facebook track your location.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Turn off, delete 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 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. Below Settings and privacy to select Privacy shortcuts followed by Manage your location settings on the privacy card. Then select Location history > View your location history and enter your account password when prompted. Finally, tap the three-dot 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 on the three-line icon, then Settings and privacy then select Privacy shortcuts followed by Manage your location settings on the privacy card. To select Location history > View your location history and enter your account password when prompted. Finally, tap the three-dot icon in the upper right corner and select Delete all location history.

Not even sure you want to use Facebook anymore? You can Delete your account, but it takes some planning on your part. If you just can’t get away from Facebook, for whatever reason, here are some tips for keep your data safe and some of best vpn services to try.

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