Facebook Security: Protecting Yourself on Facebook

Many believe that they are secure when browsing or using Facebook. However, what you don’t know can hurt you. Basic security is essential when using Facebook, and knowing what to look for, how to set up your security settings, and how to make sure you are as secure as possible can help you to safely use Facebook.

Basic Facebook Security

On the top right of your main Facebook screen, where you can post and see your activity feed, you will see a gear symbol. Click on that and a drop-down menu appears. If you click on account settings, two sections at the top left in the menu will be visible. The first is indicated by a gears logo which states “General.” The second is “Security,” indicated with a badge or shield logo.

Security Settings

Many security measures are not put into place until you purposefully go in and set them up or activate them. Check these settings and make sure you are as secure as possible.

  • Security Questions – Security questions are not set up when you first sign up for Facebook. Setting up your security questions not only helps you if you get locked out of your account, but helps to protect you from fraudulent logins. When you view your security settings, if you see a message next to the area for the security question setup that says, “Setting a security question will help us identify you,” you don’t have one set up yet. Click the “Edit” button to the right of this message to set up your security question.
  • Secure Browsing – This section should say “Secure browsing is currently enabled.” Usually this is already enabled, but you’ll want to make sure that it is.
  • Login Notifications – You need to know when someone logs into your account. This setting is extremely important because the sooner you know that someone has logged in to your account, the sooner you can address the situation. However, this setting is usually set to “Disabled.” Be sure to click the “Edit” button to the right in this section and change it to “Enabled.”
  • Login Approvals – Normally, you log in to Facebook from one or two browsers. Facebook is able to detect the places from which you log in frequently and the login approvals setting can minimize the chance that someone else can log in. Login approvals allow you to set up a security code that must be entered in order for access to be gained when logging on from an unrecognized device. This is set to “not required” automatically, but setting one up is a good idea. Use a different password than the one you use to log in to Facebook.
  • Code Generator – This is always set to “Enabled.” It is more for mobile use than anything else.
  • App Passwords – If you have login approvals setup, certain Facebook apps that cannot receive security codes may lock you out. To avoid this problem, you can set up passwords for apps with crucial information like Skype, Xbox, and so on.
  • Trusted Contacts – If you ever have trouble accessing your Facebook account, your trusted friends, or those in your trusted contacts, can securely help you. This is completely optional, and you should be absolutely sure the person or people listed here are trustworthy. If you have any doubt at all as to whether friends or contacts are trustworthy, it is best to leave this setting as is.
  • Recognized Devices – Devices from which you log in often, such as your phone, will show up here. You will not be notified of any logins from these devices. If you want to be notified of all logins from all devices, no matter what, in case you lose your phone or device or you are hacked, simply click “Edit” then “Remove” by the devices listed.
  • Active Sessions – Always click on this from time to time to see what it shows. This will tell you the dates, locations, and devices where you have logins. If you don’t recognize a device or location, click “End Activity” to the right.


While not directly a security matter, setting up your privacy settings is very important. These settings, when properly set up, can help protect you from being exposed to those you don’t want to see your activity or information.

Privacy Settings

The privacy settings are indicated by a padlock icon below the Security Settings icon. The following items are part of your privacy settings:

  • Who Can See My Stuff? – This area shows you who can see various things. You can decide who you wish to share your information and activity with here.
  • Who Can See Your Future Posts? – You can set this to public, friends, only me, lists you have of friends, or custom. Anything you post from the time you change your settings onward will only be seen by those you specify.
  • Review All Posts and Things You’re Tagged In – This allows you to review your activity log and delete what you don’t want to be shown.
  • Limit the Audience for Posts You’ve Shared with Friends of Friends or Public? – This section, which is indicated with a question, asks if you want to limit your past posts so others can’t search through them.
  • Who Can Look Me Up? – These sections let you decide who can find you by searching for you with your information, like your email address or phone number.
  • Who Can Look You Up Using the Email Address or Phone Number You Provided? – You can choose everyone, friends of friends, or friends for this setting. Whoever you choose, those people can search for you using your information. It is usually set to “everyone” immediately. You will have to set it to another setting if you want to minimize who can find you.
  • Do You Want Other Search Engines to Link to Your Timeline? – This is a simple setting that requires you to select “yes” or “no.” It is automatically set to “yes.” If you don’t want your information to be found via search engines, set this to “no.”

You do have much control over what is seen and shared on Facebook. However, you should always keep in mind that Facebook is, by nature, a public venue and it is always possible for people to find information about you that you might believe is private. You should not assume any right to privacy, not because that right doesn’t exist, but merely because you never know what can be seen. Be sure to set up all privacy options available in such a way that you are as protected as possible.