Facebook makes it easy for everyone to find and connect with friends. Remember that kid who sat behind you in second grade? No? He remembers you and has probably sent you a friend request.
Spammers, scammers, and hackers love Facebook too because it makes their job easier. You and your friends are probably making things even easier for them because of a few privacy settings you’ve never changed.
You can take Facebook’s Privacy Checkup when you have 30 minutes to help protect your information. But if you don’t have that much time, changing just two settings will do wonders to protect your information and the information of each of your Facebook friends.
Here’s what you should do:
Go to your Facebook settings, select ‘privacy’, and then look for “How people find and contact you.”
There are a couple of options you’ll want to think about and perhaps change. The first is “Who can send you friend requests?” If it’s set to everyone, people with absolutely no connection to you can send a friend request. You might think, no problem I just won’t accept. But even if you ignore or hit “don’t accept,” they’ll still be added to your list of followers. That means they’ll get updates on your posts, photos, and anything else you do on Facebook that’s “public.” Anything you post publicly is visible to anyone on Facebook, or even those without a Facebook account.
You should change that to allow requests only from “friends of friends.” It doesn’t effectively keep anyone from finding you. If a friend befriends a hacker, your name will still show up on their friends list, but it’s a good first step in making it a little harder on the scammers.
Next, find “Who can see your friends list?” This is a big one and could help protect the privacy of every single Facebook Friend. Change it from “public.”
You have a few options here. You can choose, “friends.” “specific friends” or, “Only me.” This protects the privacy of all of my friends by not sharing their information on my Facebook account. No spammer will be able to see and contact anyone on my friends list because the list isn’t shared with anyone.
This is generally how spammers and scammers keep scamming people. They befriend just one person, clone their account, and send all of their friend’s friend requests from the cloned account.
When you receive a friend request from someone you don’t know and someone you suspect might be a fake account, go to their profile and you’ll probably see that the hacker is friends with at least one of your friends.
Changing these settings will make it more difficult for people to find you on Facebook. Then again, most of us have been on Facebook long enough that most of the people we consider close friends are already Facebook friends. If you meet someone new and want to become Facebook friends you can point them to your Facebook page or you can friend them.
While you’re in settings, check a few other options too. Set all of these to “Only Me”:
- Who can look you up using the email address you provided?
- Who can look you up using the phone number you provided?
Change these settings to “no”:
- Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?
- Allow your profile to be recommended to people looking at similar profiles
You might also want to take Facebook’s Privacy Checkup just to make sure you feel comfortable with what information you’re sharing and who you’re sharing it with.