Hit the Reset Button: A New Guide to Facebook Safety and Privacy

Facebook is now in the process of releasing dramatic updates to its ever-evolving privacy features. These updates contain some new tools to help secure your privacy and online identity. And if you haven’t reviewed your settings recently, now it the perfect time to do so.

How do  you know if the new features are available to you? Go to Account> Privacy Settings. If you see the settings above, you’re in.

F-Secure Labs Security Advisor Sean Sullivan walked me through the updates, identifying the most relevant changes for cautious users. Based on what we’ve found, here’s what you need to do now—if you haven’t already—to secure your Facebook account.

1. Secure your PC and password.
How to do it:
A. Update your system and security software. Our Health Check makes this easy.
B. Choose a password that can’t be guessed. Make it a password that you only use for this account and none of your “friends” will able to guess. Don’t choose a word in the dictionary or any word mentioned on your profile. Here’s system that our Labs recommend.

Why?
Updated Windows 7 or Mac OSX software along with updated security software will protect you from most threats in case you ever make a mistake online. I also recommend you back up your data in a remote location (off-site physical backup or online backup) for complete protection.

2. Go “Friends Only”.
How to do it:
A. Go to Account> Privacy Settings.
B. Under “Control Your Default Settings” click “Friends.”

Why?
Go with “Friends Only” because you can now choose how to share any post or picture with “Public”, the maximum audience, “Friends” or “Custom”. Custom includes options to select specific friends, “Friends of Friends” or “only me.” Or you can block specific people from each post. You can make this decision each time you post. So start it’s smart to start with the safest setting just in case you post something you shouldn’t have.

Also, you can now change the privacy setting of any old post or media you posted. This is a good new addition. However, certain things like your name, friends lists and the comments you make on Facebook pages will always be public.

You can decide how and who can find and contact you on Facebook in your Privacy settings by clicking “Edit Settings” for “How You Connect”.

3. Hit the “reset button” and turn all your past posts to “Friends Only”.
How to do it:
A. Go to Account> Privacy Settings>
B. Next to “Limit the Audience for Past Posts” click “Manage Past Post Visibility”.
C. In the pop-up, click “Limit Old Posts”.
D. In the next pop-up, click “Confirm”.

Why?
Why not? You can always change an old post to make it public again if necessary. Anything you share on Facebook can be reshared in some way by anyone who has access it. With this one step you’re saying I only want my friends who I trust to have access to everything I’ve done on Facebook. Facebook assumes you know your friends. That’s the official word in a recent official Guide to Facebook Security (PDF).

Of course, Facebook also profits from social games that flourish because people friend new people ravenously. So it’s a good idea to give your Friends List a quick scan and unfriend anyone you don’t know or trust—unless you’re a game player. Then you should know that Facebook appreciates your business but isn’t designed to protect your privacy

4. Turn on Profile Review to approve all posts and pictures tagged with your name before they’re posted on your wall.
How to do it:
A. Go to Account> Privacy Settings.
B. Next to “How Tags Work” click “Edit Settings”.
C. In the “How Tags Work” pop-up, click “Edit” next to “Profile Review”.
D. In the next pop-up, click “Turn on Profile Review”.

Why?
Anyone on Facebook can now tag you in a photo or a post. With Profile Review, you’ll be able to decide which photos and posts tagged with your name show up on your wall.

While you’re on the “How Tags Work” pop-up, you may also want to disable “Friends Can Check You Into Places”. This won’t stop someone from saying you’re at a bar on your lunch break, but it may prevent your friends from seeing such a fictional check in. If you don’t want Facebook to put you in its facial database to recognize you when you appear in your Friends pictures, click “Edit” next “Tag Suggestions” on the “How Tags Work” pop-up. Then select “Disable”.

5. Set your Account Security.
How to do it:
A. Go to Account> Account Settings>
B. On the left-hand column, click “Security”.
C. Click “Edit” next to the “Security Question”. Pick a question only you will be able to answer.
D. Click “Edit” next to “Secure Browsing”. Click the box next to “Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) when possible” and then click Save Changes. You’re browsing will now be secured when it can be.
(Many apps and games are not yet updated for secure browsing. Using these may boot you out of Secure Browsing. But Facebook seems to put you back into secure browsing as soon as it can.)
E. For extra protection, click “Edit” next to Login Approvals. Then click the box next to “Require me to enter a security code each time an unrecognized computer or device tries to access my account” and click Save Changes. This will create a little hassle but could also prevent your account from being hacked.

Why?
These tools are the extra protection you need to greatly reduce the chances of your account being hacked. And if you do get hacked, an active secondary email account and a good security question will help you get it back.

6. Turn off Public Search
How to do it:
A. Go to Account> Privacy Settings>
B. Next to “Apps and Websites” click “Edit Settings”.
C. Next to “Public search”, click “Edit Settings”.
D. Make sure the box next to “Enable public search” is NOT checked.

Why?
Do you want your Facebook page to be the first thing to come up if an employer, an ex or your mom does a Google search of you? If your answer is yes, click that box. If not, limit the ability to find you within Facebook and Facebook apps.

7. Click with caution.
How to do it:
A. Think twice before you ever click the “Post” button.
B. Think thrice before you click on the links posted by friends.

Why?
Clicking on a bad link could expose you to malware or scams. This is when you need your updated software to protect you most. For extra protection, use our free ShareSafe App to share links with your Facebook friends. You’ll even earn points that can be used to win rewards.

8. Limit the information shared with Apps.
How to do it:
A. Go to Account> Privacy Settings>
B. Next to “Apps and Websites” click “Edit Settings”.
C. Next to “Apps you use”, click “Edit Settings”.
D. Click the “X” box to delete any app you aren’t using.
F. Go back to App settings, and click “Edit Settings” next to “How people bring your info to apps they use”. Uncheck every box and click Save Change.
E. For extra protection, turn off all applications until you need them. Do this by clicking “Turn off all platform apps” in the Apps, Games and Websites settings.
F. For even more protection, turn off “Instant Personalization” which automatically shares your public information with Facebook’s partner sites. Do this clicking Edit Settings next to “Instant personalization”. UNCHECK the box next to “Enable instant personalization on partner websites.”

Why?
When you’re dealing with apps, you’re dealing with third-party developers who you may not know or trust. The actual language Facebook uses to clarify how and when your information may be shared through apps and friends is difficult to decipher.

The more you limit the data you’re sharing, the more control over your identity you have. We say eliminate the unknowns; opt out of sharing until you have a reason to opt in. You should also know if you use an app, there’s a chance your friends could find see that. So keep that in mind every time you try out a new app.

BONUS TIP: Tell Facebook not to use your  image or name in ads.
How to do it:
A. Go to Account> Account Settings>
B. On the left-hand column, click “Facebook Ads”.
C. Click “Edit third party ad settings”.
D. Next to “If we allow this in the future, show my information to” select “No one.”
E. Click Save Changes.
F. Click “Facebook Ads” again and click on “Edit social ads setting”.
G. Next to “Pair my social actions with ads for” select “No one.”

Now check your work. See how other people see your profile.
How to do this:
A. Go to Profile.
B. In the upper right corner, click on View As…
C. View how specific friends or the “public” sees you.

A sign posted on a wall in Facebook headquarters says: “Move fast and break stuff.”

Facebook’s transition into secure/https browsing, is a good example of how Facebook improves privacy and security in a steady, if occasionally buggy, way.  As you explore these new features, you may notice, for instance, that Facebook still may use the word “Everyone” in one or two places, though they announced that they’re transitioning to the word “Public.” But the changes here are for the better.

These updates are, of course, not enough for some critics. As usual, you should expect some unforeseen consequences, as there nearly always are when 750 million active users have to reexamine how they use the largest social network ever created.

Your security depends on you and your friends knowing how Facebook works. Now that you know how to protect yourself, I hope you share this information with someone you care about.

Follow F-Secure on Facebook for more security and privacy tips.

Cheers,

Jason

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Your digital memories – will they vanish or persist?

If you like sailing and tall ships, I can recommend this podcast about Pam Bitterman’s book Sailing to the far horizon. It’s a great story about the last years of the community-operated ship Sofia, covering both a lot of happy sailing and the ship’s sad end in the early eighties. But this is not about hippies on a ship, it’s about how we record and remember our lives. In the podcast Pam tells us how the book was made possible by her parents saving her letters home. Perhaps they had a hunch that this story will be written down one day. Going on to state that e-mails and phone calls wouldn’t have been saved that way. That’s a very interesting point that should make us think. At least it made me think about what we will remember about our lives in, say, twenty years? We collect more info about what we are doing than ever before. We shoot digital pictures all the time and post status updates on Facebook. We are telling the world where we are, what we are doing and what we feel. Maybe in a way that is shallower than letters home, but we sample our lives at a very granular rate. The real question is however how persistent this data is? If we later realize we have experienced something unique enough to write a book about, have our digital life left enough traces to support us? Pam wrote the book about Sofia some twenty years later. A twenty year old paper is still young, but that’s an eternity in the digital world. Will you still be on the same social media service? Do you still have the same account or have you lost it. Does the service even exist? And what about your e-mails, have you saved them? How are your digital photos archived? You may even have cleaned up yourself to fit everything into a cheaper cloud account. Here’s something to keep in mind about retaining your digital life. Realize the value of your personal records. You may fail to see the value in single Facebook posts, but they may still form a valuable wholeness. If you save it you can choose to use it or not in the future. If you lose it you have no choice. Make sure you don’t lose access to your mail, social media and cloud storage accounts. That would force you to start fresh, which usually means data loss. Always register a secondary mail address in the services. That will help you recover if you forget the password. Use a password manager to avoid losing the password in the first place. Redundancy is your friend. Do not store important data in a single location. The ideal strategy is to store your files both on a local computer and in a cloud account. It provides redundancy and also stores data in several geographically separated locations. This is easy with younited because you can set it to automatically back up selected folders. Mail accounts have limited capacity and you can’t keep stuff forever. Don’t delete your correspondence. Check your mail client instead for a function that archives your mail to local storage. Check your social media service for a way to download a copy of your stuff. In Facebook you can currently find this function under Settings / General. It’s good to do this regularly, and you should at least do it if you plan to close your account and go elsewhere. Migrate your data when switching to a new computer or another cloud service. It might be tricky and take some time, but it is worth it. Do not see it as a great opportunity to start fresh and get rid of "old junk". If you are somewhat serious about digital photography, you should get familiar with DAM. That means Digital Asset Management. This book is a good start. Pam did not have a book in mind when she crossed the Pacific. But she was lucky and her parents helped her retain the memories. You will not be that lucky. Don’t expect your friends on Facebook to archive posts for you, you have to do it yourself. You may not think you’ll ever need the stuff, just like Pam couldn’t see the book coming when onboard Sofia. But you never know what plans the future has for you. When you least expect it, you might find yourself in a developing adventure. Make yourself a favor and don’t lose any digital memories. Safe surfing, Micke  

Oct 13, 2014
BY Micke
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On Ello you’re not a product, you’re a feature.

Most of us have some kind of relationship with Facebook. We either love it, hate it or ignore it. Some of us are hooked. Some have found new opportunities, and many have got themselves into a mess on Facebook. Some are worry-free and totally open while others are deeply concerned about privacy. But we probably all agree that Facebook has changed our lives or at least impacted our ways to communicate. Facebook has showed that social media is an important tool for both business and private affairs. Facebook was in the right place at the right time to become the de-facto standard for social media. But the success of Facebook is also what makes it scary. Imagine the power you have if you know everything about everyone in the civilized world. And on top of that with quite loose legislation about what you can do with that data. Ok, everything and everyone are exaggerations, but not too far from the truth. Others have tried to challenge Facebook, but no one has succeeded so far. One reason is that social media automatically is monopolizing. The most important selection criteria is where your friends are, and that drives everyone into one common service. The fact that even Google failed with Google+, despite their huge resources and a ready user base from services like Gmail, just underlines how solid Facebook’s position is. Ello is the latest challenger and they certainly have an interesting approach. Ello tries to hit Facebook straight in its weakest point and provide a service that respect user integrity. They may lack the resources of Google, but they can be credible in this area. The choice between Facebook and Google is like a rock and a hard place for the privacy minded, but Ello is different. Their manifesto says it all. Will Ello survive and will they be the David that finally defeats Goliath? Ello is in a very early phase and they certainly have a very long way to go. But remember that their success depends on you too. You may not be a product on Ello, but you are certainly a feature. The main feature, actually. The team can only provide a framework for our social interactions. But people to be social with is absolutely crucial for any social network. So Ello’s raise or fall is mostly in our hands now. They need enough pioneers to make it a vibrant society. The development team can make the service fail, but they can only create potential for success. Ello needs you to materialize that potential. So what’s my honest opinion about Ello? The fact that the service is based on privacy and integrity is good. We need a social media service like this. But there are also many open questions and dark clouds on Ello’s sky. People have complained about its usability. And yes, usability is quite weird in many ways. It’s also very obvious that Ello is too premature to be a tool for non-technical users. Now in October 2014, I would personally only invite people who are used to beta software. But both usability and the technical quality can be fixed, it just takes more work from the team. A bigger question mark is however the future business model of Ello. On Facebook you’re a product and that’s what pays for the “free” service. But how is Ello going to strike a balance between privacy and funding the operation? This is one of the big challenges. Another is if the privacy-promise really is enough? Many of us are already privacy-aware, but the vast majority is still quite clueless. What Ello needs is either a big increase in privacy awareness or something clever that Facebook doesn’t provide and can’t copy quickly. It may seem futile for a small startup to challenge Facebook. But keep in mind that Facebook was small too once in the beginning. Facebook showed us that we need social media. Perhaps Ello can show us that we need social media with integrity. But anyway, you are among those who decide Ello’s future by either signing up or ignoring it.   Safe surfing, @Micke-fi on Ello   Picture: ello.co screen capture

Oct 3, 2014
BY Micke
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How should we deal with defamation and hate speech on the net? – Poll

Everybody probably agree that the net has developed a discussion culture very different from what we are used to in real life. The used adjectives vary form inspiring, free and unrestricted to crazy, sick and shocking. The (apparent) anonymity when discussing on-line leads to more open and frank opinions, which is both good and bad. It becomes especially bad when it turns into libel and hate speech. What do you think about this? Read on and let us know in the poll below. We do have laws to protect us against defamation. But the police still has a very varying ability to deal with crimes on the net. And the global nature of Internet makes investigations harder. Most cases are international, at least here in Europe where we to a large extent rely on US-based services. This is in the headlines right now here in Finland because of a recent case. The original coverage is in Finnish so I will give you a short summary in English. A journalist named Sari Helin blogged about equal rights for sexual minorities, and how children are very natural and doesn’t react anyway if a friend has two mothers, for example. This is a sensitive topic and, hardly surprising, she got a lot of negative feedback. Part of the feedback was clear defamation. Calling her a whore, among other nasty things. She considered it for a while and finally decided to report the case to the police, mainly because of Facebook comments. This is where the really interesting part begins. Recently the prosecutor released the decision about the case. They simply decided to drop it and not even try to investigate. The reason? Facebook is in US and it would be too much work contacting the authorities over there for this rather small crime. A separately interviewed police officer also stated that many of the requests that are sent abroad remain unanswered, probably for the same reason. This reflects the situation in Finland, but I guess there are a lot of other countries where the same could have happened. Is this OK? The resourcing argument is understandable. The authorities have plenty of more severe crimes to deal with. But accepting this means that law and reality drift even further apart. Something is illegal but everybody knows you will get away with the crime. That’s not good. Should we increase resourcing and work hard to make international investigations smoother? That’s really the only way to make the current laws enforceable. The other possible path is to alter our mindset about Internet discussions. If I write something pro-gay on the net, I know there’s a lot of people who dislike it and think bad things about me. Does it really change anything if some of these people write down their thoughts and comment on my writings? No, not really. But most people still feel insulted in cases like this. I think we slowly are getting used to the different discussion climate on the net. We realize that some kinds of writing will get negative feedback. We are prepared for that and can ignore libel without factual content. We value feedback from reputable persons, and anonymous submissions naturally have less significance. Pure emotional venting without factual content can just be ignored and is more shameful for the writer than for the object. Well, we are still far from that mindset, even if we are moving towards it. But which way should we go? Should we work hard to enforce the current law and prosecute anonymous defamers? Or should we adopt our mindset to the new discussion culture? The world is never black & white and there will naturally be development on both these fronts. But in which direction would you steer the development if you could decide? Now you have to pick the one you think is more important.   [polldaddy poll=8293148]   Looking forward to see what you think. The poll will be open for a while and is closed when we have enough data.   Safe surfing, Micke  

Sep 8, 2014
BY Micke