Beyond Privacy Basics: How to make your Facebook profile even more private


Facebook has given its privacy settings a bit of an overhaul this week with Facebook Privacy Basics.

Facebook has often been accused of obscuring privacy settings in hidden menus and making them jargon heavy, so it looks like the company has decided to make things more user friendly with a dedicated site to tips about who can access your posts, when what you write is private and when it’s public and so on.

One of the best things about the update is that the basic settings have been overhauled. Clicking on the padlock icon in the top right brings up a much sleeker interface for managing what apps are tied to your account and what personal details are loaded into the Facebook system. You also get guides about who can see what you post, who can contact you and most importantly, how stop trolls by blocking them outright.

A number of these options can now be changed from right within your timeline without the need to navigate through Facebook’s immense and sometimes intimidating security options. With that in mind, here’s how to give yourself a quick security check using those tools and more.

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Hide your activity from Facebook

Here’s something you won’t find in Privacy Basics. If you’re looking to make your web activity more private, there’s one thing which Facebook still doesn’t offer even in it sand that’s the ability to automatically log out when you’re not using the social network (because while you’re logged in, Facebook tracks every time you visit a website with a Like button). So the first thing we’d suggest anyone who uses Facebook does is install the browser extension Facebook Disconnect (here for Chrome, here for Firefox). What this does is block your browser from sending information to Facebook unless you’re actually using a Facebook site – invaluable.

It’s like a visit to the doctor, at your desk

One of the best tools in the update is Privacy Check-up. Privacy Check-up can be found when you click the little lock icon at the top right of your profile page.

The option is highlighted in blue and when clicked you will be presented with three options: Posts, Apps and Profile.

Within in the posts section you can dictate who will see the next update you make on Facebook. This can be changed at any time when you create a post but changing this option will change the default setting.

If you use your Facebook profile to log into other social networks or websites you can review these within the Privacy Check-up.

We discovered a number of apps that were still tied to our account even though we no longer visit those sites or use those Facebook apps. It makes for a good bit of housekeeping if you enter lots of competitions.

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You can remove the apps that you don’t want or stop them from posting to your timeline. We’d like to issue a word of warning here, make sure you aren’t revoking access to websites that rely on your Facebook access to log into them.

The final section marked Profile will allow you to change who can see your birthday, your home town, your phone number and your email address.

All of these options can be changed at any time so don’t for a moment think that these changes can never be updated, they can be.

Two-factor authentication

Another essential security measure is to add two factor authentication to your account. Facebook has offered this for a while, sending you a code via SMS or generating one in its mobile app every time you log in. It’s also just added support for hardware tokens like YubiKey, though, which is great for desktop users. YubiKey turns any USB memory stick into a hardware key that must be plugged into your PC to access linked accounts – just download the software and set the key up using Settings>Security>Two factor authentication in Facebook.

Off to a good start

Once you’ve changed the basics you can take a deep dive into your privacy settings and start changing things to better secure yourself.

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The social network offers up tips on how to create a secure password and what to do should you find yourself the victim of a hack.

Any other Facebook security tips? Feel free to share them below.

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