There’s nothing fun about discovering that your private information was stolen from you online, and things only get worse when you learn that this data has been sold to someone else completely – all without your knowledge.
Unfortunately, for more than 50 million Facebook users (and counting), that’s the reality that they have had to contend ever since news broke recently about the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica scandal.
We still don’t know the depth or breadth of this data breach, but we do know that Facebook was responsible for selling private information to more than 50 million users to this outside organization in an effort to influence the previous presidential campaign in the United States.
At first, Facebook denied the breach, but in the face of overwhelming evidence – and after being summoned to speak about the data breach in front of Congress – it turns out that this kind of behavior just may be the tip of the iceberg.
Some good has come out of this sticky situation, however.
More and more people are waking up to the importance of protecting their data online than ever before. It’s important that you do absolutely EVERYTHING you can to keep your personal and private information online exactly that – both personal and private.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you pull that off.
The data you share on Facebook today can be used by a variety of different third parties and outside individuals, all without you even realizing that it is happening in the first place.
Protecting yourself on Facebook is mission-critical. This is especially true since Facebook can be used as a “portal” to gain access to other sensitive about you from pretty much every interaction you have online with ANY website, Facebook related or otherwise.
1. STAY AWAY FROM QUIZZES AND FACEBOOK APPLICATIONS
One of the easiest ways for these outside individuals and organizations to gain access to your personal and private information was through “personality quizzes” and the like.
Most people only saw them as time killers, but in reality, they were windows into an individual’s personality, the way they think, the way they act, and the way they look at the world – relevant information for a whole host of organizations that you may or may not agree with.
Other applications also provided “free” experiences in exchange for your personal and private data without ever expressly highlighting this exchange. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to stay off of quizzes, games, and Facebook applications.
2. MAKE CHANGES TO YOUR PRIVACY SETTINGS NOW
Secondly, you need to make sure you change your privacy settings on Facebook ASAP.
The “stock” Facebook experience shares your personal information with almost any other user on the platform. You want to go through the (admittedly convoluted) settings process of finding your privacy settings, adjusting them to block your account down, and verifying that you are the only person who can see or use your data on the platform.
3. DON’T FRIEND RANDOMS
Everyone that you friend on Facebook games at least some access to your personal and private data, which is why you don’t want to just click ACCEPT on any and every friend request you have come down the pipeline.
Instead, you want to make sure that you only friend those that you know in real life, those that you have connected with already, and those that you have fully researched and vetted. You want people you comfortable seeing at least some of your private data becoming friends with you.
4. INCREASE SECURITY WITH EXTRA SETTINGS
Believe it or not, it’s possible to supercharge your Facebook security significantly by using the built-in tools that Facebook created for “power users” – the tools that you should be using right out of the box to better secure your Facebook account no matter what.
For starters, you’ll want to set up alerts and notifications that let you know if your Facebook account has been logged in from a device or web browser that you aren’t using on a regular basis. You’ll be able to spot fraudulent access to your Facebook account ASAP and get that access shutdown with lightning-like speed thanks to these kinds of notifications.
Two-factor authentication is another big piece of the Facebook security puzzle. This will require you to type in a code sent from Facebook to your mobile device when you are logging in, guaranteeing that you and only you will be able to gain access to your Facebook account – as you’ll have total control over your cell phone at the same time as you are logging in.
Extra security features that shutdown special access apps and other add-ons have as a standard feature can be adjusted as well. Basically, you want to create as much of a walled garden experience in Facebook as possible to keep your information and data both safe and secure.
This is a guest contribution by Karl Schneider, owner of VPNReviews.Online, a blog about cybersecurity, video streaming, and online privacy. If you’re concerned about privacy or just enjoy watching content from around the world, get in touch with Karl at his blog.