Essential Tips for Safe Facebook Usage

Technology is changing our worlds. So, if we speak about safety, it would be futile to only speak about our safety in the physical world. Instead, we need to recognize that safety is equally essential online as it is offline. Commercial firms have for example started to use cookies to investigate browser histories and are appropriating user generated content. As a result, privacy as a valued good is increasingly being marginalized. Maybe even trickier is that perpetrators of crime are using social media in order to facilitate their criminal activities. This calls for a continuous effort to stay informed in order to keep information over our data.

National Network to end Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is a Washington (US) based organization which has developed strategies to incorporate a vision on online safety in their programs and initiatives. Together with Facebook they have developed Tips for safe use of Facebook for survivors of various forms of abuse and harassment (including domestic violence, stalking, cyber bullying etc.). The tips given here are relevant for everyone using social media. On 19th of May Media and Communication team members Ranjani Arvind and Kim van Kastel conducted an internal training of CSR employees and interns based on this guide. Here are some of the ideas and tips derived from the training and the guide.

  1. Use a good virus scanner.
  2. Review your security settings.
  3. Passwords: You might have heard it a thousand times, but only because it is that important. Pick passwords which are not too easy to crack. Change your passwords from time to time. And do not use the same password for every media/website you use. Click here for more tips on safe passwords.
  4. Security Questions: Some social media make use of security questions. These are questions which you have to answer when you forgot your password of your account and you want to access it. The correct answers to these questions you have to set in advance. Important here is to not use answers which are too obvious. When the question for example is “Where were you born?”, give an answer which is a bit specific or which only you would remember such as “In a hospital bed” or “On the moon”.
  5. Activate the login notification function of Facebook: This will allow you to receive notifications in case of suspicious log-ins. Path: Settings> Security Settings> Login Notifications > Edit > Save Changes login notifications
  6. Activate the Code Generator function of Facebook: If you activate this, you put in security codes each time you login from a new device. In this way you can prevent people from trying to login to your account from unknown devices. Path: Settings > Security Settings > Code Generator > Edit > Save Changes
    Code generator
  7. Adjust which devices trusted by You: In this way you won’t get notifications for logins these devices. Path: Settings > Security Settings > Your Browsers and Apps > Edit > Save Changes Your Browsers and Apps
  8. Keep track on your active sessions: This shows you where all you are logged in. If you do not recognize a session, then you can use to end it with one simple click. The “end all active sessions” option is extremely useful for example when your phone, laptop or Ipad is stolen. Path: Settings > Security Settings > Where you’re logged in > Edit > Save Changes where you're logged in
  9. Review your Privacy Settings: Be aware or what will always be public to everyone. This will be your name and gender, your profile photo and cover photo, the networks you belong to, your username and user ID. Also, if you place a comment or post on or on the wall of a friend or on a public page, you don’t have control over who is able to see this.
  10. Select your Audience: You can adjust your default setting for who gets to see the posts on your timeline. On top of that you can adjust per post who you share your post with. You can share it with everyone on and off facebook (public), with friends, friends except acquaintances (you have to select in advance you consider to be an acquaintances), only with a particular group, with a customized audience (for example with all friends except for a few individuals or groups) or with nobody. new flatmate
  11. Adjust the visibility of your personal data: In your ‘about section’, you can give a lot of information such as where you work, when you were born, whether you are in a relationship or not, your sexual preference etc. You can adjust who sees this information. Path: About > Places you’ve lived > Current City and Home Town > Edit > Save Changesplaces you've lived
  12. Disable the links between your profile and search engines such as Google and Bing: In this way your Facebook profile does not pop when someone Googles your name or something related to you. Path: Settings > Privacy > Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline > Edit > Save Changes
  13. Review your timeline and tagging settings: You can adjust whether you want to approve tags in photo’s and posts first before they appear on your Facebook wall. In this way you will have greater control over what you want to share with the world and what you want or do not want to be associated with. Path: Settings > Timeline and Tagging > Review post friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline > Edit > Save Changes
  14. Use the social resolution tools: If someone posts something which is harmful to you or which is not in accordance with the Facebook community guidelines, you can ask the person to remove it through the social resolution tool.
  15. Unfriend, block and report: You can unfriend, block and report persons on Facebook. You can also report to Facebook posts or photo’s which are inappropriate or harmful in your opinion. Path for reporting: Click on photo with which you are tagged > Options >Report Photo
  16. Download Your Information (DYI) Tool: This allows you to download all the information your profile (can be used as evidence of abuse) including the history of IP addresses from which your account was accessed. Settings >General > Download a copy of your Facebook data download a copy

Lastly, if all your online security efforts do not sufficiently shield you from abuse, stalking or harassment, do take action. Talk to a person you trust, to a local domestic violence victim advocate or even to your law enforcement such as your local police authorities.

Click here For more information about NNEDV

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