Feeling Safe on Facebook: How to Protect Your Profile, and Group Basics

By Janice Barlow

ALERT! LANGUAGE CONTENT WARNING!

If you are reading this, you are reading an online media publication. You likely have either a Facebook account, a Twitter account, or some other form of social media account. You probably use it regularly. You’ve possibly seen some things you wish you hadn’t, or you know of others who have. I want to give you some basics concerning how to protect yourself on Facebook so that you maintain safety both on and offline.

Here are some very basic do’s and don’t’s

1.    Always log off of the site when you are done. If you are using a phone or tablet, you can just swipe the sites off your screen. It’s much harder for hackers to get into a phone or tablet than it is a PC. On a PC, you should always log off, or just shut down. If you don’t you are leaving yourself wide open for hacking.

2.     Make sure your post are not public, unless you really want them to be. Usually, they should be set for friends only.

3.     Never have your photos or groups and likes visible to people other than friends. I even hide my groups and likes from friends. One day, someone might not be my friend anymore, and I don’t want that information available. Groups and likes can be hidden.

4.    Try to avoid making Facebook your personal photo album. Use another app for that. Transfer your photos from the Facebook album to another private album and delete them from Facebook. You can repost the ones you want selectively for friends only. This goes for all that personal information too. Facebook is not a public diary. It’s not safe to put all that information out there.

5.   Wear sunglasses in your photos used for cover backgrounds, profile pictures and close up photos. Facebook and other advertisers can always see the profile pictures, so you don’t want them scanning your face using biometrics. They do this to archive and index your images. This may not be a big deal for some people, but if you have made enemies on social media, you don’t want to create an additional means for them to get data on you.

6.   Delete posts where serious arguments have occurred. This is important because it’s how enemies are made. Someone who was your friend may become obsessed with your opinion on something and decide to take it a step further if they are not in a good mood. The person may decide to go trolling through your information.

7.   Make sure when you tag people in a post, that you have it set so that the friends of those people cannot see the post. They automatically will, unless you change the setting to “friends only“.

8.  Groups:

When you join a group, it can be public, closed, or secret. Facebook may be doing away with secret groups, which cannot be joined without a member referring you. They cannot be “seen” in a search, and this has created a window of opportunity for nefarious groups which shouldn’t be on social media.

A closed group is visible in a search, but the posts in the group are not visible to non-members. Most groups for causes are closed. That way, it’s easier for the group administrators to screen who is trying to get in.

A public group is closed to non-member posting, but anyone can see the posts. If you belong to a public group and post or comment in it, your friends can see what you have posted if they are on a PC. The newsfeed scrolls constantly, and your post will show up. Sadly, I have seen a few friends whom I thought had high moral standards, post cussing and attacking commentary in groups on my newsfeed. They are no longer my friends.

If you are in a group and you are threatened or attacked by another member, do not hesitate to report it. First, report it to the administrators of the group. There is a tiny arrow at the upper right hand corner of the post in question that you can click and a drop-down menu shows up. One option is “Report post to admin.” Another option is “Report post” That one sends the reported post right to Facebook .The wise thing for an admin to do is to remove and block any member who personally attacks another. If the admin doesn’t respond within a reasonable time, usually a few hours, or if he/she doesn’t remove the attacker or report him/her, then the next step is to report the person to Facebook. Facebook has a team who will respond to you. Depending on the nature of the threat, they will warn the person, remove their access for a period of time, or even permanently.

In the meantime you should block the person so that he cannot see any part of your profile and learn anything about you.

If it is a more dangerous threat– someone says that he is coming after you and has a gun – then skip the admin and Facebook, and contact law enforcement.  When you call, you will need to ask for the department or person who handles an urgent social media threat on Facebook. It may even be wise to call your state Bureau of Investigations. They will be receptive in lieu of the recent situation where a man allegedly murdered someone live on Facebook, then killed himself before being captured.

Make sure you have photos. Go to the attacker’s own profile wall and take more photos which will help. It is important to take a screenshot photo of any attack to document it, because the attacker can delete it and claim it never happened. Facebook will not act on deleted posts if you have no evidence.

Other red flags that you should report are:

Weird groups you run across – I reported a group last year that I saw in a person’s group list. It had a bunch of photos and discussion of adults who like to wear diapers and act like babies. That sounds disgusting, but actually considered harmless by Facebook. The real issue was that some of the photos showed young people who were obviously under eighteen years old. I turned it over to law enforcement. The group is gone. I don’t know if it was because of my reporting or someone else’s, but if you see something that’s not right, DO SOMETHING!

Bigotry and racism. This is a judgment call, because some people see it all day long. But if you see blatant racism, especially in a group, and no admin wants to remove the member, then report it to Facebook. Facebook does not take racism lightly and they will sanction the member by removing privileges, even permanently.

Keep in mind that unless you actually tell a person that you are reporting him, he will never know it was you. People as young as 14 can be on Facebook. We need to be responsible adults and keep the riff raff off.

The desire to write this article was born this past weekend when I was attacked and cussed at in a group by an ignorant person. The group is a political group that is supposed to be for conservatives, but it has turned into a sort of middle school playground free-for-all, since the sole admin can’t handle the 6,300+ members, and he doesn’t want to deal with what he calls “mild attacks”.

I took appropriate measures by reporting the offender to Facebook, and I’m waiting for a response. This is a situation where the admin has not acted in an appropriate manner, because this is not an isolated incident in this group, which is called, “Sarah Palin Out of Nowhere!” I joined because I wanted to post my articles from this media, even if I didn’t agree with many of the members’ views. Sometimes it’s unavoidable to be pulled into discussions when lies are being promulgated. Here are a couple screenshots from a man whose name I am leaving public so you can also block him, report him, etc. He is still a member of that group, and I have been removed from the group for agitating the admin too much about trying to get Robert Orena removed.

    

These disgusting and vile comments are more extreme examples, but in politics on Facebook, anything goes, and maybe you have seen it. It’s much easier to keep trolls off  of your own wall than in groups. I have found that the best way to enjoy groups is to be one of the admins. Then I can use my “steel toed boot” and kick out an offender in an expedient manner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Thought to “Feeling Safe on Facebook: How to Protect Your Profile, and Group Basics”

  1. Joanne

    Good write-up Janice. Thanks!

Comments are closed.