The 8 Most Important Ways to Protect Your Identity and Privacy on Facebook: #4

Control how the world sees you via Facebook.

It seems to always make the news when someone loses a job over something they did on Facebook. What we don’t hear about is the countless jobs, opportunities and relationships that may have been lost because of Facebook activity.

Even if you have nothing to hide and no opportunities to lose, you still have to recognize that you will be judged by how the world sees you on Facebook. This brief guide will show you in 4 quick steps how to control your Facebook identity.

1. See how the world sees your Facebook profile.

Go to Account > Privacy Settings

Under “Connecting on Facebook” click “View Settings”

In the upper right corner, click on the Preview My Profile button

This is how most of the world sees you. If you don’t like what you see, go back and adjust your privacy settings. If you’re okay with what you see, continue on.

2. Decide if you want your Facebook profile to show up in search engines.

Depending how unique your name is, your Facebook page could show up at the top of a Google search for you. If you’re fine with how your profile represents you to all past and potential friends, family and employers, you don’t need to do anything. If you’d rather not be found on Facebook, do the following:

Go back to Account > Privacy Settings

Under “Apps and Websites”, click “Edit your settings”

At the bottom, next to “Public search”, click the Edit Settings button.

Uncheck the box next to “Enable public search”

Note the message there that explains your information may still be accessible on some search engines for a while.

3. Decide who can see photos you’re tagged in.

Facebook wants to tag you in as many photos as possible. Why? They know they became the world’s biggest social network by becoming the world’s biggest photo sharing site. The more photos, you’re in, the more you use Facebook. But allowing others to tag you in photos allows others to control your identity. You can be misidentified or shown in situations that you do not want made public. And these photos can end up representing you, as Facebook displays the last 5 pictures in a row on top of your profile.

You can always un-tag yourself from photos one-by-one, but I suggest that you adjust this setting to only allow friends to tag you in photos. Personally, I only allow myself to tag me in photos, which is the surest way to control my identity.

To adjust who can tag you in photos, go to Account > Privacy Settings

Under “Sharing on Facebook”, click “Customize settings”

In the “Things others share” section next to “Photos and videos you’re tagged in” click Edit Settings

Next to “Who can see photos and videos I’m tagged in” select Friends Only

Or for increased protection, select Customize then under “Make this visible to” select Only Me

4. Decide if you want Facebook to “Suggest photos of me to friends”.
As a Facebook user, you have to be aware that you will most likely be opted in to any new features they offer. This policy is controversial but it’s also part of the price of using Facebook to communicate with friends. Facebook’s “Suggest photos of me to friends” is an especially creepy new feature since it employs facial recognition. It’s been available in the United States since 2010 and will roll out across the globe in 2011. You should be aware that Facebook may already be identifying you in your friends pictures to make it easier for you to be tagged.

You may want to turn off this feature simply because it is so new that it is difficult to imagine the ways it can be used or misinterpreted. Or you may just not like the idea of your identity being determined by a machine. Here’s how to turn it off.

go to Account > Privacy Settings

Under “Sharing on Facebook”, click “Customize settings”

In the “Things others share”, next to “Suggest photos of me to friends” click on Edit Settings

Next to “Suggest photos of me to friends” select Disabled

The 8 Most Important Ways to Protect Your Identity and Privacy on Facebook

  1. Unless you have a good reason not to, use the “Friends Only” privacy setting.
  2. Turn on Secure Browsing.
  3. Secure your account.
  4. Control how the world sees you via Facebook.
  5. Turn off Instant Personalization and audit your apps.
  6. Watch where you click.
  7. Decide if you want your name and image to appear in Facebook ads.
  8. Start using Facebook lists.

More posts from this topic


A temporary profile picture but permanent app permissions

We are all sad about what’s happened in Paris last Friday. It’s said that the terrorist attacks have changed the world. That is no doubt true, and one aspect of that is how social media becomes more important in situations like this. Facebook has deployed two functions that help people deal with this kind of crisis. The Safety Check feature collects info about people in the area of a disaster, and if they are safe or not. This feature was initially created for natural disasters. Facebook received criticism for using it in Paris but not for the Beirut bombings a day earlier. It turned out that their explanation is quite good. Beirut made them think if the feature should be used for terror attacks as well, and they were ready to change the policy when Paris happened. The other feature lets you use a temporary profile picture with some appropriate overlay, the tricolor in this case. This is a nice and easy way to show sympathy. And it became popular very quickly, at least among my friends. The downside is however that it seemed so popular that those without a tricolor were sticking out. Some people started asking them why they aren’t supporting the victims in Paris? The whole thing has lost part of its meaning when it goes that far. We can’t know anymore who genuinely supports France and who changed the picture because of the social pressure. I changed my picture too. And it was interesting to see how the feature was implemented. The Facebook app for iOS 9 launched a wizard that let me make a picture with the tricolor overlay. Either by snapping a new selfie or using one of my previous profile pictures. I guess the latter is what most people want to do. But Facebook’s wizard requires permissions to use the camera and refuses to start until the user has given that permission. Even if you just want to modify an existing picture. Even more spooky. The wizard also asked for permission to use the microphone when I first run it. That is, needless to say, totally unnecessary when creating a profile picture. And Facebook has been accused of misusing audio data. It’s doubtful if they really do, but the only sure thing is that they don’t if you deny Facebook microphone access. But that was probably a temporary glitch, I was not able to reproduce the mic request when resetting everything and running the wizard again. Your new profile picture may be temporary, but any rights you grant the Facebook app are permanent. I’m not saying that this is a sinister plot to get more data about you, it may be just sloppy programming. But it is anyway an excellent reminder about how important the app permissions are. We should learn to become more critical when granting, or denying, rights like this. This is the case for any app, but especially Facebook as its whole business model is based on scooping up data about us users. Time for an app permission check. On your iOS device, go to Settings and Privacy. Here you can see the categories of info that an app can request. Go through them and think critically about if a certain app really needs its permissions to provide value to you. Check Facebook's camera and microphone permissions if you have used the temporary profile picture feature. And one last thing. Make it a habit to check the privacy settings now and then.   [caption id="attachment_8637" align="aligncenter" width="169"] This is how far you get unless you agree to grant Facebook camera access.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_8638" align="aligncenter" width="169"] The Settings, Privacy page. Under each category you find the apps that have requested access, and can select if the request is granted or denied.[/caption]     Safe surfing, Micke   PS. The temporary profile picture function is BTW simpler in Facebook's web interface. You just see your current profile picture with the overlay. You can pan and zoom before saving. I like that approach much more.   Photo by Markus Nikander and iPhone screen captures    

November 16, 2015
facebook login

Using Facebook to log in – safe or not?

Open up your favorite web site and you can see what this is about right away. There are in many cases two options, an ordinary log-in and “Log in with Facebook”. Have you been using the Facebook option? It is quite convenient, isn’t it? I was talking to a journalist about privacy a while ago. One of the hints that ended up in the final story was that it isn’t necessary a good idea to link your other accounts to Facebook. And that raised questions. Some people have wondered why it is so, and pointed out that we at F-Secure also provide that option in our portal for F-Secure SAFE, MY SAFE. So let’s take a closer look. Is it good, bad or ugly? Here’s the important points: Facebook acts like an authentication service in this scenario. One single password opens the door to many services. This is indeed convenient and reduces the need to remember a lot of different passwords. But you should use different passwords on every service to reduce the damage if a password is leaked. That could happen for example in a phishing scam. Using Facebook’s log-in everywhere is putting all your eggs in the same basket. The worst thing you can do is to use the same user ID and password on all your sites, but *not* the Facebook function. A leak in any of them could give the attackers access to all your systems. Using the Facebook login instead is in this case a way to *improve* security. Facebook's servers are well secured, a leak from them is highly unlikely. It may reveal private info from Facebook to the other service unnecessarily. Most of us just click OK when Facebook asks for permission to give data to the other service, without thinking about what we really approve. Facebook will get yet another sensor to profile you. They will know that you use a certain service, when and how often you use it, and on what kind of device and where in the world you are when using it. Most people are on Facebook under their real name, but you may want to use other services more anonymously. If you don’t want it to be publicly known that you use a particular service, then you shouldn’t use your real-name Facebook account to log in. Remember that privacy on-line is not just about how much private data you reveal. It’s also very much about whom you reveal it to and how fragmented your digital footprint is. Preventing different services from consolidating your data improves your privacy. So should I use this feature at all? Maybe, it depends. There are some downsides, but it's a convenient way to log in, that can’t be denied. But first, the security-savvy approach is to instead use separate strong passwords on every site and a password manager. It’s a little bit of work when you set it up, but it is really the most secure approach. Don't use Facebook log-in for critical services. Those are sites containing sensitive information or where you make payments. They always deserve a strong unique password. But there's also a large number of sites that aren't that critical. Your on-line newspaper for example. If crooks get your Facebook password then your compromised newspaper account will be the smallest of your problems. Go ahead and use Facebook log-in for those if you find it convenient, but keep in mind the privacy concerns listed above. It's all about how picky you are about privacy. And don’t forget to review the permissions you have givens to apps and sites in Facebook. Go to Settings / Apps and you see the list of approved apps. Remove anything that sounds fishy, that you can’t remember approving or that you aren’t using frequently. Don’t be afraid to remove too much. The worst thing that can happen is that an app or site stops working and asks you to give it Facebook permissions again. Open all remaining apps and review what permissions they have. Think about what they do for you and if they really need all their permissions. Fix the permissions if needed. To wrap up. The Facebook log-in feature is not a security problem. Facebook's security system is solid and your security is not in jeopardy if you use it. But I still recommend separate passwords for the critical sites. The question marks are on the privacy front instead. Linking sites together contributes to forming a more comprehensive digital footprint. It's up to you to decide how worried you are about it. With this info you should be able to make an educated decision about where Facebook log-in can and can't be used.   [caption id="attachment_8629" align="aligncenter" width="266"] Jamendo's permissions in Facebook. This is the basic permissions most well-behaving apps/sites ask for. If the site asks for more, consider carefully if it really is needed.[/caption]   Safe surfing, Micke     Images by C_osett and Facebook screen capture

November 12, 2015

Are you using Facebook at work? (Poll)

I’m sure you have run into it if you work at a company with an organized IT function. They provide you with a computer, but they control it and set restrictions on what you can do with it. This is justified. Keeping the systems patched and updated is necessary to maintain security. Not to talk about maintenance of the anti-malware. But security is not the only driver for controlling the computers. Productivity is another. The web is usually wide open and employees can surf wherever they like. Entertainment, social media, news, hobbies, work-related issues, they are all there in the same web. Trying to limit web access to just work-related content is a really hard task. Practically impossible in most cases. And on top of that, you can always pull out your smartphone, if the mean IT-folks have created nasty restrictions on the employer-owned device. Employers’ worries about security and productivity are demonstrated in a Bloomberg article. It’s a bit dated already, but probably still quite accurate. The list of banned apps can be divided in three groups. Cloud services makes it easy to share company secrets. Entertainment is time-consuming and addictive. And finally Facebook representing social media. Banning Facebook is interesting. Social media has quickly grown to be one of our most commonly used communication platforms. Is it really fair to shut this off for the whole workday? But Facebook can on the other hand be very addictive. I’m sure there are employees who spend far too much time there. But the question is if an effective ban of Facebook really would improve productivity? No-one can work 8h flat out without any breaks. Personally I feel that micro-breaks, like checking Facebook, helps me stay focused and get the work done. So let’s see what you think. What’s your relation to Facebook at work time?   [polldaddy poll=9172266]   Safe surfing, Micke   Photo by momo  

November 10, 2015