Upgrades Made by Facebook
If you are a regular user of Facebook, you may have noticed a decrease in the number of questionable news stories on the site. They have made a concerted effort to eliminate so-called "news sites" which were known to share fake news stories in the past. They have also supplemented their computer screening systems with more real human beings who review items shared on the site, and the company has made it easier for users to report phony stories.
In addition, Facebook recently announced they will be rolling out one centralized page which will allow users to control their privacy and security settings. Until they do, the information below will help you protect your privacy yourself.
How To Protect Yourself on Facebook
In addition to the increased security measures taken by Facebook administrators, most users will find it helpful to take a few simple steps to protect their private information, minimize conflict with others on the site, and make it easier to focus on the Facebook posts which interest them the most. Below are a some of the actions you should consider:
1. At the top of your Facebook page you will see a question mark in a dark circle. Click on it. About halfway down the pop-up menu you will see "Privacy Checkup." Click on it and a new box will open up. Make sure you choose "only me" or "friends" for everything. You should not choose "public" for any of your settings. While you are there, remove any unfamiliar apps which you do not want accessing your information.
2. Avoid Facebook games and apps. Yes, many of these games are fun. However, you are safer if you download games separately to your tablet, phone or other device and play only games which are not connected to Facebook. You especially want to avoid any games which ask for access to your name, email address and the names of your friends. In the Privacy Checkup, you can click the X next to any apps you want to remove.
3. Next, click on the down arrow to the right of the question mark. On the left hand side of the page which opens up, you will see a column of choices including privacy, apps and websites, and ads. Click on each of those items and see if you want to make changes in this area. For example, under ads you can decide whether or not to allow Facebook to show you ads based on your computer activities when you are NOT on Facebook. Go through all your choices in this section and make sure you are protecting your privacy as much as possible.
4. Avoid questionnaires on Facebook. They may seem like harmless fun, but they are often attempts to get your personal information, potential passwords, or the answers to security questions by asking you when and where you were born, your middle name, the names of your pets, the names of schools you attended, your favorite flavor of ice cream, etc. You should avoid answering these questions unnecessarily on any site.
How to Control Who Sees Your Facebook Posts
You can also control which of your friends see what you post. If you are simply wishing everyone Happy New Year, you may want all your Facebook friends to see your post. However, if you are making a comment about a politician or other controversial subject, there may be some Facebook friends who you would prefer NOT to see your posts.
In this case, when you write the post, make sure you choose who can see your post. You can choose that it can only be seen by you, by the public, by your friends, by friends of friends or you can choose "Facebook friends except for ...." When you make this last choice (my personal favorite), you can choose which friends cannot see each post. You remain Facebook friends with the people who are not seeing all your posts, but they cannot see your posts when you choose this option.
I have also sent messages to the Facebook staff requesting that they make this an option when you leave a comment on a controversial news item. I hope they will make this additional option available to us in the future, so we can control which of our friends can see our comments.
When you control who can see your posts, you are much less likely to get into conflict with friends who may disagree with some of the things you post.
What If You See Posts You Dislike?
Are you seeing news stories or other posts which you find upsetting? You can also put a stop to those. Whenever you see a post you do not like, you can click on the three dots in the top right-hand corner of the post and choose what action you would like to take. For example, you can choose to unfollow that person or site. This is a good choice if it is a news site, for example, which posts controversial stories which upset you. However, if you do not want to do anything that drastic, you can also choose to hide the post, snooze the source of the post for 30 days, or give feedback on the post and report it. The last one is an especially good choice if you believe the source of the post is spreading fake news or posts which are inappropriate in some way. Facebook administrators will then investigate the organization which created the post and determine if they are breaking any Facebook rules.
How to Find Interesting Posts
One beneficial way to use Facebook is to follow organizations which interest you. These organizations will post articles which you may find helpful. You can search for these organizations by using the search bar at the top of your Facebook page. When you find sites you want to follow, click on the Follow button in their page. For example, I follow the Facebook pages for the city where I live, neighboring cities, politicians whom I support, my county commissioner, several major local and national news organizations and several health organizations. Because of this, Facebook has become an easy place for me to stay informed about topics of interest to me. Depending on your interests, you can find sites which provide recipes, gardening tips, art, and information about any chronic illnesses you may have, as well as thousands of other topics.
If you follow the above suggestions, you will soon find that Facebook is enjoyable once again and, at the same time, you will keep your personal information safe. In addition, you will also discover that you are having fewer disagreements with your friends on Facebook. Now that is a win-win way to use Facebook!
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