P.T. Barnum Was Right About Us All
“There’s a sucker born every minute.”
“Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the American public.”
I know, I know – you’d leave Facebook, if only your beloved great-aunt Mildred, your third cousin Raymond (thrice removed), and all the “Friends” you swore you’d see in Hell before ever speaking to them again weren’t there, but you cannot abandon them and they’re just too stubborn, lazy, or apathetic to try yet-another-new-internet-thingy. We are all codependent enablers, hooked on social media platforms that will slowly erode civilization as we know it. Facebook is the Hotel California: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
You can, however, find yourself in Facebook Jail.
You can be locked out of your account, with no real recourse. Don’t bother sending proof of ID to Facebook; they’ll simply ignore it, unless you’re a celebrity with an entourage of highly-paid lawyers and publicists. Besides, you have no idea where you’re really sending your ID, your utility bills, your proof of residence, do you? It could be some underpaid, overworked, psychologically abused moderator in a distant country who has finally had just about enough of Facebook users and corporate nonsense. Seriously, don’t bother.
You can find your public photos being stolen, you account being cloned, and your friends being phished by impersonators. Some part of me feels that if my friends don’t know me well enough to spot egregiously bad spelling and grammar, and interrogate imposters until they turn themselves in and beg for mercy, then good enough for ’em if they find their bank accounts wiped out, one day. But no – we are all just one cup of caffeine short of a bad decision, some days. The ones I worry most about are the ones who are 100% sure they can’t possibly be fooled – but don’t even know the term “social engineering” and still think guys in the Cayman Islands are “hitting on them.” Or that girls admiring their own airbrushed asses in a truck stop bathroom mirror are just waiting, bosoms heaving, for their call.
You can find your real account being reported by well-meaning friends who know there are three imposter clones out there but can’t be bothered to verify which URL is being used by which “person.” Or you can find yourself on the wrong end of some social media bully who doesn’t like something you’ve said. Report is both a useful tool and a nasty weapon.
If you’ve considered all of this and still don’t think Facebook is more trouble than it’s worth, at least take an hour or so to batten down the hatches and secure your account – and keep your friends safer, while you’re at it. Do these things:
- Protect Your Friends
- Do a Security Audit & Update on Your Facebook Profile
- Turn Your Facebook Posts into WordPress Blog Posts! (Optional, but who knew this feature even existed? Is it new?)
Protect Your Friends
Lock Down Your Friends List
One of the best things you can do to protect your Facebook Friends is to lock down who can see your friends list. Visit https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=privacy and under Who can see your friends list? select Only me. This is not 100% foolproof, and God knows, every time you foolproof a thing, God builds a better fool. But it will slow down the phishers of men somewhat. At least they’ll only be able to see your “Mutual Friends,” which also means that when some imposter sends you a Friend request, you will be able to see which of your friends need a referral to this blog post. Friends don’t let friends carelessly skip through life unprotected.
Be Wary of New Friend Requests
If a real life friend sends you a Friend request right after you’ve talked, odds are pretty good it’s the real deal. Still, it never hurts to message them and double check.
If you aren’t entirely sure that request is from your friend, do the following:
- Check to see if your real friend by the same or similar name is already listed as your Friend on Facebook.
- Visit their Profile. Have they posted recently? Can they still access their primary account (the one you’re already friends with)?
- Can you reach them using that original account by Messenger, email, or phone to see if they’ve been locked out and started a new account?
Once you are sure that the imposter account is an imposter, please Report it and let your friend know. Make absolutely sure that you are reporting the imposter account, not your friend’s original account!! This is very important.
To report an imposter account (yours or a Friend’s), complete the following steps:
- On Android:
- Visit the friend’s Profile. Click the … next to the Message button. About halfway down, you will see <Friend name>’s Profile link. Jot it down or remember it. Do not report this one!
- Next, visit the imposter’s Profile. Click the … next to the Message button. About halfway down, you will see <Friend name>’s Profile link. Take a screenshot. Now, click Find support or report profile. Under Please select a problem, tap Pretending to Be Someone.
- Follow the prompts to select the appropriate options. (Friends listed will only show those you are actually connected to, but be very careful, once again – if you have accidentally accepted an imposter Friend request and both accounts use the same profile picture, this is very risky.)
- On a PC, the steps are the same but you can see the Profile link in the browser address bar. If you have low vision and time is not of the essence, this may be the safer option – to use a larger screen.
Do a Security Audit & Update on Your Facebook Profile
The purpose of the completing the following steps is twofold: First, to prevent unwanted and unauthorized access to your Facebook account; and second, to ensure that you have access to your data and your own Facebook account, should you forget your password or get locked out.
- Visit https://www.facebook.com/dyi?referrer=yfi_settings to Download a copy of your Facebook information (suggestion: do this monthly; be sure to select a Custom date range and choose All, the first time you do this);
- Visit your Facebook security settings: https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=security and complete all of the following steps from your desktop or laptop PC:
- Review all sessions listed under Where You’re Logged In – don’t panic, even if it’s a long list, it’s probably all yours. The list may go back a year or more, and may include devices you no longer own. Even if the location appears to be remote, it may still be yours – it depends on where the IP address (possibly your Internet provider, or a session where you were traveling) is located. Log out of all but your current, known sessions, then;
- Change your password (suggestion: do this monthly – or more often!);
- Turn on Use two-factor authentication (note: you must use your own valid phone number here, so if you’re not comfortable giving this information to Facebook, you can try one of the other methods but know that your account may be less secure);
- Next to Recovery codes, click the Show codes button. Click the Download button and save the text file in a safe place (you can print it out, if you like – but keep it in a secure location that you can remember and easily access in case you get locked out of your Facebook account. Treat these as “backup passwords” and do not give them out or leave them lying around on your desk);
- On your mobile device, use or download an authenticator app (suggestion: use Google Authenticator – it’s lightweight and easy to use). Set up your chosen authenticator app by scanning the QR code displayed on your PC display or monitor;
- Return to https://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=security;
- Review Authorized Logins (this is a list of devices where you won’t have to use a login code – again, even a long list is probably just devices you own, have owned, and have authorized in the past, but it’s a good idea to remove all of them unless they are recent and you recognize them).
- Under Setting Up Extra Security, turn on both options. For Notifications, choose how and where you want to be notified of unauthorized logins. Again, these may just be you on a new browser or in a new location (e.g., while traveling or in a coffee shop). Choose 3 to 5 trusted friends (who would call you to verify that you are you before authorizing someone to access your account!) that can help you regain access to your account if all else fails;
- Review Apps and Websites, Games, and Business Integrations. If you recognize these and remember why you authorized them and what permissions you granted them, no problem. But you can edit and remove any that you no longer recognize, trust, or use.
Do give Facebook an accurate and up-to-date email address and phone number in your security settings, but also keep your password secure and updated. Your email address and phone number are, generally speaking, a matter of public record – stubbornly refusing to give them to Facebook is just a good way to make account recovery more problematic – if not impossible – for you, at some point.
While you’re in your Facebook settings, Designate a Legacy contact under Memorialization Settings just in case you die, so they can go in and post a prominent note that you’re dead and tell Facebook to stop notifying friends of your death by sending them reminders to wish you a happy birthday. I hope to God you have better things to do, in the hereafter, than to check Facebook. Choose someone who uses Facebook and understands your wishes. (You may or may not want to give a family member this added burden; mine is a friend who would consult family at the appropriate time, but who will look after my stupid social media crap — er, account — in the meantime.) You can just say, “Burn it. Burn it with fire.” This will give a trusted contact authorization to do so, when the time comes.
Turn Your Facebook Posts into WordPress Blog Posts!
Or simply export your photos to an external cloud storage service.
- Visit https://www.facebook.com/tyi
- Click Next.
- Choose destination. From the drop-down list, select the service you want to export your posts, notes, or photos to (e.g., Blogger, Dropbox, WordPress, Google Photos, Photobucket, Google Docs, and more).
- Choose what to transfer. You will be notified of the types of data that can be transferred to the selected service, as well as any limitations. For example: “Due to technical limitations, a maximum of 100 posts can be transferred to Blogger. If you need to transfer more than 100 posts, please choose another destination. Please note the process automatically selects your most recent posts for transfer.”
- Connect to authorize the transfer of information from Facebook to another service. You will need to re-enter your passwords to confirm.
- Start transfer. Return to https://www.facebook.com/tyi to see the progress and any previous transfers you have made.
- Check that the data has successfully been transferred to the other service before deleting any of it from Facebook.