So You’re NOT Leaving Facebook?

Oct 31, 2021 | Learning, Technical & How-To

P.T. Barnum Was Right About Us All

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”
― P.T. Barnum

“Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the American public.”
― P.T. Barnum

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

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.

  1. Visit https://www.facebook.com/tyi
  2. Click Next.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.”
  5. Connect to authorize the transfer of information from Facebook to another service. You will need to re-enter your passwords to confirm.
  6. Start transfer. Return to https://www.facebook.com/tyi to see the progress and any previous transfers you have made.
  7. Check that the data has successfully been transferred to the other service before deleting any of it from Facebook.
Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.

12 Comments

  1. Esha

    Very very pertinent, Holly! I’ve done most of it, except transferring my FB posts to my blog. Not sure I wish to do that. I’d happily delete my account if not for the groups that I’m part of. Makes it easier for everyone to stay connected that way. A lot of food for thought for everyone here. Thank you for sharing these crucial points, Holly.

    Stay safe and take care. Much love and tons of positive vibes,
    Esha
    Esha recently posted…A Walk in the SunMy Profile

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      I really do NOT want to transfer my posts to a blog! LOL But I was surprised by the option. I did transfer my photos to Google Photos and then downloaded my Google Data to my own PC for a backup.

      Reply
  2. Mitch Mitchell

    LOL! Okay, now that you’ve slammed “Meta” let’s tell some truths.

    I’ve never had any of the problems you’ve had with FB; same problems you’ve had with LinkedIn and, maybe, Twitter (though I can’t remember that). You like going after people and stirring up trouble; I’m not saying whether or not it’s warranted, just pointing out the facts… and you know I’m right!

    Overall, I’ve had little trouble with FB in years since I added FB Purity to my account. It blocks words and other stuff I don’t want to see in my stream to help me stay calm so I don’t go off on people who irk me to no end.

    Truth be told, except for definitely one person and sometimes another, there’s only 2 of my relatives I’ve ever talked to offline, but many others I’m connected to on FB, none of whom I’ve ever been connected to anywhere else. It’s been interesting being connected to family members on both sides, some of whom I didn’t know existed until FB; talk about strange. And, different from what I’ve seen of other family connections, all of my relatives believe the same thing I do about politics and racism; it’s comforting. Maybe not religion, but I’ll allow them that since I kid them and tell them they were raised wrong! 😀 BTW, the same goes for all my college friends except one, who’s local.

    So, I’ll be staying until the day it figures out how to block my add-on and tries to force WhatsApp on me. Until then, I’m good with what I’ve got and what I’m allowed to share, though I’ll own up to not quite trusting them… but I don’t trust the other sites much either.
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…The Reality Of Driving Massive Traffic To Your BlogMy Profile

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      Mitch, 98% of my FB posts are Friends Only. I hardly “go off on” anyone! 😀 Life’s too short.

      Oh, they will figure out how to block FB Purity, and could do it if they wanted to. Notice all the paywalls on news sites, these days? Even incognito mode won’t work on most of them, anymore. The “free” internet ain’t free – never has been, and it will shrink to nothing soon.

      WhatsApp is better from a privacy standpoint than Messenger, but less convenient. Not sure what you have against WhatsApp. IF someone says they’re leaving Facebook on moral/ethical grounds, I ask if they’re leaving WhatsApp and Instagram, too. If they say no, they’re hypocrites. Facebook owns them all. If they say yes, good for them. There’s no point picking and choosing, though. Now, the thing about WhatsApp vs. Messenger is that WhatsApp conversations (1:1, anyway) are E2E encrypted. No so with Messenger.

      We both blog; we both say controversial things, sometimes. We know how to control access to our own spaces and use tools like Block and Report.

      This post is primarily for the innocent folks who find themselves locked out of their accounts – often erroneously THINKING (and saying) they’ve been “hacked” – to help ensure they can at least recover and/or save the data they’ve uploaded and count on having access to at Facebook.

      And just like many other sites, over the years, Facebook could shut down or be shut down. Best to be proactive in taking your own backups.

      Reply
      • Mitch Mitchell

        I only use Instagram, but if FB decides to force either of the other two items on me and my phone I’d quit Insta in a heartbeat. I don’t want to add more apps to my phone if I don’t have to, and I’m already good with regular texting between me and people I add. Messenger or messages can stay on my desktop.

        I read last week that FB had not only shut down a plugin to add “dislikes”, but threatened to sue the guy who created it unless he disabled it entirely. I didn’t even know about it, but I wouldn’t have used it anyway; no sense in bringing that kind of negative attention to myself.

        The thing I’m dealing with at the present moment is someone trying to break into my account by requesting a code to get it. However, since the request comes to my email address and no one’s breaking into that, it makes no sense for them to keep trying (22 characters; my FB password’s 25). I know it’s probably all automated but the longer the password the longer it’ll take them to get to me, and hopefully it’ll never happen.
        Mitch Mitchell recently posted…Sleeping, Eating & BloggingMy Profile

        Reply
        • Holly Jahangiri

          25 is really good. It’s concerning that they’re trying 22, though…

          It’s interesting, too – just read a piece on another site where a woman mentioned getting weird comments about a post she’d written on another site, then someone tried to access HER Facebook account. I suspect that’s just coincidence, but all the more reason to be careful and to protect your data.

          I know several authors who have been locked out of their personal accounts and their professional pages/groups due to hacked accounts. Even if those accounts get shut down, the original owners aren’t always able to regain access and control over them. So they lose followers, images, posts, goodwill – it’s not trivial.

          If I lost access to Facebook, I wouldn’t bother creating a new account. You can be sure I’d let everyone know any imposters were just that, though. 😉
          Holly Jahangiri recently posted…To Stop a Serial Comma KillerMy Profile

          Reply
  3. Mitchell Allen

    I am indifferent. Having ceding online privacy since 1995, I take comfort in my grandmother’s quip: “Who steal my purse, steal trash.”

    Honestly, if Facebook had made it easier, I’d have shut down my account years ago.

    Cheers,

    Mitch
    Mitchell Allen recently posted…Bombs Away!My Profile

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      Who steals your identity, though, steals something a bit more important than the contents of your purse. I think this is the thing many don’t realize. I’m not even sure I grasp all the nefarious implications, but I live in a space somewhere between reasonably cautious and unreasonably so. I can’t live in that latter space, and I think those who do are often the most vulnerable because they make themselves a fun “challenge” as a target.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted…Past Perfect, Perfectly Passive-Aggressive VoiceMy Profile

      Reply
      • Mitchell Allen

        True. I’m not incautious, I just don’t fret over the containment protocols you and others suggest. Ideally, I would close all social media accounts and return to sending letters by mail.

        [With photos! Unlimited attachments. LOL]

        Cheers,

        Mitch
        Mitchell Allen recently posted…Bombs Away!My Profile

        Reply
  4. Corinne Rodrigues

    I wish I could leave. It’s only a few groups that are keeping me there. And while I’m there, I share my blog content.

    Reply

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