This morning I awoke to a message from a friend stating: “PLEASE if you get a Friend request from me IGNORE! Looks like I’ve been hacked yet again.”
Over the past several months I have noticed an increase in the number of similar updates from friends and colleagues. These fake Facebook profiles are popping up all over the place. These accounts are created by hackers, but they are not breaking into your account through emails and passwords, rather, they are gathering public Facebook information and creating a second you.
It is important, therefore, to be confident about the information you share with friends and the public.
There are a few key areas to focus on, including:
- Cover Photos
The large horizontal image at the top of your Facebook personal profile is your personal cover photo. While some people have chosen not to upload a custom image, many people have taken the opportunity to showcase family, wedding, vacation, or personal photos. It is important to be aware that these photos are visible to the public and that anyone can save these photos to their desktop for their personal use. If you are concerned about your privacy, consider removing this image.
- Profile Picture
Your Facebook profile picture is the image that appears whenever you create posts, or comment on friend’s posts. Users can change the privacy setting for each profile picture either to public, friends, only me, or custom. If users are concerned about their privacy, it is recommended to set the profile picture privacy to, at a minimum, “friends.” While the standard blue silhouette will be visible to non-friends, this ensures only your friends can view your latest profile picture.
Lately Facebook has been actively encouraging users to update personal information, including current location, hometown, relationship status, work, and education. Many times, however, the default setting for all of this information is “public.” Take a peek at this section to ensure you’re not oversharing your personal life, and that you have set the appropriate privacy settings.
- Friend Lists
Hiding your Facebook friend list from the public is the most important component to securing your personal privacy. Without this vital list, hackers will be unable to send misleading requests to your existing friends. To update your settings, from your personal profile click “Friends,” then in the top-right, click the writing utensil, selecting “Edit Privacy.” Select “Only Me” as the privacy setting. This ensures that only you can see your friend list.
Remember folks: Just because Facebook asks you to include key information, does not mean that it is a requirement! Only share information with which you are comfortable. Have additional questions? Just ask below!