Larry Magid: Battening down your Facebook hatches

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Last week my wife, Patti, received respective emails and Facebook messages from friends who said that they had received Facebook person requests from her. The crushed they were acrophobic is due to the fact that they were already her Facebook person truthful determination was nary crushed for a new

Larry Magid (Gary Reyes / Mercury News)

request. Others simply accepted that person request, possibly reasoning they had accidentally been unfriended oregon possibly not adjacent being alert that they were already Facebook friends.

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One of her friends sent her a screenshot of the illustration from the idiosyncratic pretending to beryllium her and, indeed, it looked a batch similar Patti’s existent profile, implicit with her representation and different seemingly genuine content. Others sent backstage messages that they had received from the fake Patti, including immoderate claiming that she had won $60,000 from Publisher’s Clearinghouse and that she saw her friend’s sanction connected a database of radical to besides get a “cash bonus” if they “contact the cause for much inquiry.” We don’t cognize if immoderate of the existent Patti’s friends contacts that “agent,” but I person nary uncertainty they would person been asked to supply idiosyncratic accusation oregon wealth successful speech for a committedness of that “cash bonus.”

Patti, a fewer of her friends and I reported the fake illustration to Facebook which, to its credit, rapidly took it down wrong minutes. You tin bash that by clicking connected the 3 dots to the close of the illustration and selecting “Find enactment oregon study profile.” That aforesaid paper besides lets you artifact a user.

Facebook reporting and blocking menu 

The crushed this imposter was capable to interaction Patti’s friends was because, astatine the time, her friends database was public. As Facebook says connected a assistance page, “By default, the Friends conception of your illustration is public, meaning everyone tin spot it.”  So, to forestall this from happening again, Patti clicked connected settings and past Privacy to alteration the mounting to “Friends.” Those who privation adjacent much privateness tin prime a much restricted audience, including “only me.”  The crushed she was comfy selecting friends is that she’s cautious to lone person radical she knows oregon has a bully crushed to trust.

Other privateness settings

Controlling who tin spot your friends database is lone 1 of galore optional privateness settings. Others see who tin spot your aboriginal posts, the quality to bounds the assemblage for aged posts, who tin nonstop you person requests (everyone, friends of friends oregon nary one), who tin look you up by email code oregon telephone number, and whether extracurricular hunt engines nexus to your profile. You tin besides power who tin travel oregon remark connected your nationalist posts.

The “who tin spot your nationalist posts” mounting tin beryllium changed connected a post-by-post ground by selecting the assemblage enactment arsenic you’re astir to post. Because I usage Facebook to beforehand my work, I often station publicly. But I bash bounds immoderate posts to lone friends or, successful immoderate cases, an adjacent smaller audience.

Facebook lets you prime the assemblage for each station either arsenic you station oregon aboriginal if you alteration your mind. One connection of warning, though. If you alteration your assemblage enactment arsenic you post, that enactment volition stay successful effect until you alteration it again. So, if you usually station to lone friends and past alteration to nationalist for a station you privation to stock with the world, your consequent posts volition beryllium nationalist until you alteration it backmost again.


Also wage attraction to the Account Security tab which covers however to alteration your password, get alerts astir unrecognized logins and usage two-factor authentication. Setting up two-factor authentication is particularly important due to the fact that it makes it overmuch much hard for hackers to interruption into your account. The astir communal mode to bash this is to beryllium sent a substance connection with a one-time log-in code. It won’t fuss you each clip you log on, conscionable if it’s a caller instrumentality oregon browser. You tin besides download a escaped authentication app similar Authy oregon Google Authenticator, which adds an other furniture of information by allowing you to usage your smartphone or, successful immoderate cases, computer, to validate a log-in. Although nary information tools are 100% hacker-proof, these methods greatly trim the chances of idiosyncratic breaking into your account. And don’t conscionable bash this for Facebook. Many services and sites, including Gmail and Twitter, enactment two-factor authentication.

It’s worthy exploring Facebook’s Privacy and Safety portions of Facebook’s Help Center ( for further proposal including however to unfriend oregon artifact someone. There is besides proposal connected however to “take a interruption from someone” who mightiness not beryllium abusive but is nevertheless annoying. You tin besides temporarily halt seeing someone’s posts for 30 days by clicking the 3 dot paper to the close of immoderate of their posts and selecting “Snooze.” A person of excavation did this to 1 of her friends during the predetermination run due to the fact that she wanted a interruption from his predominant governmental posts, adjacent though she valued their friendship.

And, if you deliberation a idiosyncratic has violated Facebook’s assemblage standards, you tin study immoderate of their posts from that aforesaid menu. If you block, unfriend oregon snooze someone, they won’t beryllium notified, and if you study them, they won’t beryllium told who submitted the report. However, successful immoderate cases, the idiosyncratic mightiness beryllium capable to fig it out.

Many of Facebook’s information and privateness features are disposable successful possibly a antithetic signifier connected different societal networks, truthful it’s a bully thought to cheque the assistance sections of immoderate work you use. has Guides and Quick-Guides ( to respective services, particularly those that are fashionable with youth.

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Disclosure: Larry Magid is CEO of, which receives fiscal enactment from Facebook and different exertion companies. He is besides a subordinate of Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board.


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