Over 1 billion people use Facebook worldwide, and while it's a great way to keep up with your friends online, there are certain consequences if you're not careful when using the site — careless Facebook users are prime victims for identity thieves. In addition to revealing too much personal information on your profile and using weak passwords, logging into your account from multiple locations without signing off can be a dangerous habit. This can leave your Facebook account, where you can have messages that contain personal information like addresses, credit card numbers and more, open to identity thieves.
Thankfully, Facebook has a feature that allows you to log out of all of your active sessions remotely, whether you are on your computer or smart phone. For example, if you signed on at your friends house one day and at the library a week before that but forgot to log off, you can sign into your account from your phone and log out of those devices even if you're hundreds of miles away. We show you how to do it from your Facebook for iPhone application (very similar on Android and your computer):
Facebook for iPhone:
1. Go to the sidebar and select "Privacy Settings"
2. Head to the "Security" section
3. Go to "Active Sessions"
4. Remove all of the active sessions you aren't currently using
In addition to making sure your Facebook profile is secure and your passwords are strong, identity theft protection services are extremely useful for keeping you safe from fraud. Read this blog post on how identity theft protection can work for you.
Sharing our personal information online has become somewhat of an addiction since the invention of social media sites. As children, we are taught to be wary of giving out our name, phone number or address to strangers, yet suddenly we are sharing that same information with millions of strangers on Facebook. And that need to share our personal information with complete strangers is costing us. In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission received 2 million consumer complaints, a historically high number that consisted of more than 360,000 identity theft complaints. Identity thieves only need a few key pieces of your personal information to steal your identity. Limiting the information you include on your profile or setting your information to private may seem pointless or a waste of time, but these simple actions can help prevent identity theft. Check out the graphic below to find out how identity thieves hack social media profiles, learn about which information you should or shouldn’t share on Facebook and other tips for identity theft protection.
It’s harder to keep things private these days since we are constantly connected to the web. Yes, it makes it easier to share birthdays, favorite locations and contact information with friends, but it also makes it easier for us to become a victim of identity fraud. In 2011, 11.6 million U.S. adults were victims of identity theft, according to the California Office of Privacy Protection. But just because it could happen to anyone, it doesn’t have to be you. The passwords you choose, how you treat your smartphone, and what you display on your Facebook page may all seem like second nature, but the truth is you should be actively thinking about your privacy when doing any of these everyday activities. Check out the graphic below to see how carelessness can lead to identity theft, and read about the simple ways that you can help protect yourself from becoming a victim, including getting identity theft protection.
One of our top rated VoIP services — VoIPo — goes head-to-head with Facebook's VoIP services to determine which service is best for consumers.
Price: VoIPo offers two years unlimited calling to the U.S. and Canada for $6.21 per month or monthly unlimited calling for $15 per month. Facebook's VoIP services are free through Facebook, however the services run on data, so if you have a set amount of data, then you risk the cost of paying extra fees to your phone provider for going over your data plan. The fees can cost as much as $10 per extra one GB used — that amount can add up very quickly. VoIPo is the cheapest domestic VoIP service out of our reviewed services, and is a cheaper option than Facebook VoIP services if you have a limited data plan with your cell phone provider.
Equipment: VoIPo offers a free small adapter — which turns data into voice and voice into data — that plugs into your home cable modem and your router. Facebook’s VoIP services are only offered to its iOS users, or iPhone, iTouch, iPad and iPad mini users. The prices of the Apple products differ based on the product and the memory size, but the most expensive product of the bunch — an iPad with 128GB memory — can retail as high as $929.
Call Quality: VoIPo service’s call quality overall is solid. The voice sounded fair and warm, and it lacked any noticeable delay or echo. On the other hand, Facebook’s VoIP service’s call quality was not very good. It sounded as if the person on the other end of the call was sitting in a tunnel, and there was a noticeable echo that began to get annoying after 30 seconds or so into the conversation.
International calls: Both VoIPo and Facebook say they offer unlimited calling to the U.S. and Canada. Whether you get the 2-Year Unlimited plan for $6.21 per month or the monthly unlimited plan $15.00 per month, VoIPo truly does offer unlimited calling. Facebook’s VoIP service does offer unlimited calling, but only if you have unlimited data. Also, the call only works if both of the users are Facebook friends and have the most recent version of Facebook app or the Facebook Messenger app.
Bottom line: Both VoIPo and Facebook offer unlimited calls to the U.S. and Canada, however if you are looking for a dependable option that is more cost effective and has better call quality, we would recommend trying VoIPo for your VoIP needs.
If you'd like to compare the VoIP services we review, check out the compare page to see what each service offers.
If you've seen the new blog Actual Facebook Graph Searches (and it's likely you have–it's been featured in The Guardian, Forbes, Slate, TechCrunch, Mashable, Gawker, the Huffington Post and Le Monde, as well as on countless websites), then you may be wondering whether you should take another look at your Facebook privacy settings to be sure that you're not sharing embarrassingly more than you mean to be about yourself. That's a good goal, but what's the best way to go about it?
Facebook changes its privacy section pretty frequently, offering updates to the ways you can control what information is public and what is private, but these days it's actually pretty simple to get your profile as private (or public) as you want it to be.
This includes your check-ins, shared posts, friends, family member listings, "likes," photos, and information like your phone number if you've posted it. Make sure you look through all the sections of your profile and remove any information that you don't really want to share with anyone.
How to see what everyone else sees:
One of our favorite features of Facebook's privacy system is the "view as" function. Using this tool, you can see exactly how your profile looks to anyone, including how it looks to the general public, how it looks to your friends, and how it looks to your family. Your first step should be to check out how your profile looks to the general public, the group you probably want to share the least with.
To get to the "view as" feature, click on the gear symbol at the top right of the page when you're logged into Facebook and choose "privacy settings." You can see what that looks like in the image to the left. We've circled the "Privacy Settings" button in red.
Once you're in the privacy settings section, choose "Timeline and Tagging" from the bar on the left of your screen. This will bring up all of your settings for the posts on your timeline and the ones you're tagged in. You'll see a broad selection of options in this window, including settings to control who can post on your timeline, who can see the things you and your friends post on your timeline, and how you handle tagged posts and photos. We'll cover these settings a little later on, but for now, you want to choose the "View As" link to the right of "Review what other people see on your timeline."
Once you've selected "View As," by default the feature will begin by showing you what the public can see on your profile. This can vary quite a lot, from almost nothing visible to almost everything visible.
What you see in this mode is what your average user of Facebook–people who are not friends with you or one of your friends–can see about you. Be sure to double-check what they can see about the pages you've "liked" and the photos you're tagged in, as those are common sources of embarrassment. If you're a student applying to college or you're thinking of applying for a new job, you may want to be extra-careful, as what is visible in this mode is likely to be visible to college admissions officers and hiring managers.
As you check what various friends can see on your profile, make adjustments as necessary, hiding or deleting posts and pictures you don't want everyone to see.
Consider who your friends are:
If you're like most people, you're friends with lots of different categories of people on Facebook, everyone from coworkers and acquaintances to close family and friends. And probably, you don't want to share the same things with all of them. This is where Facebook's ability to separate your friends into lists can really come in handy. If you categorize your friends into useful lists, you can then set up custom privacy settings for each group. For example, in my the settings in this screenshot, you can see that my friends (with the exceptions of those I put in the Acquaintances list) can see what others post on my Facebook timeline. You might make lists for close friends, family, and coworkers, for instance, and then adjust what each group can see in your settings.
As the Internet has become an integral part of our daily lives, more of our personal information is becoming less personal. It is for this very reason that we have International Data Privacy Day, which is celebrated on January 28th each year to help raise awareness and promote education about online privacy.
- Check out Google’s removal request tool: Google has a great tool that allows you to ask Google to remove search results or cached content if you believe the information warrants removal from Google's services based on applicable laws. This is a simple form that can be filled out in a matter of minutes.
- Contact sites directly: This is definitely a tedious process, but you can contact particular sites and companies that have your personal information and politely ask them to erase it. If you find incorrect information about yourself on a background or people search site, check out this blog post that explains some ways you can remove the inaccurate information.
- Do not track: AVG security software has developed a tool that allows you to opt out of tracking on most web browsers. This means that browsers like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox won’t be able to track your Internet behavior.
- Keep your identity protected: Remember, if you find false information, or are afraid that your data is being used fraudulently, signing up for an identity theft protection service can help notify you of any fraudulent activity concerning your identity.
The most important thing to keep in mind when protecting your online privacy, is to be aware. Until there is further innovation that closes the rift between usability and consumer privacy, it is always a great idea to read privacy policies on sites that you know you will be entering any kind of personal information. Awareness is a great prevention tool, even if reading the fine print can be tedious.
After weeks of buzz surrounding Facebook's new feature announcement last week, we've finally gotten a good look at the much hailed "Graph Search" function. Using Facebook's vast library of information liked, shared, and documented by its users, Facebook is now allowing users to search through their friends and their interests in a fascinating new way. Unlike a traditional people search or the old-school search bar on Facebook's homepage, users don't need to search by name to get interesting information about their friends–they can search by location, interest, check-ins and more, cross-referencing the information Facebook has about its users to get a look at who likes what and how.
Graph Search works like a series of filters. Rather than searching for a name or a place, Graph Search lets you specify the characteristics you're looking for to narrow down a list like your list of friends or the friends of your friends. This allows you to sort down the people you know on Facebook into usefully short lists. (Check out the examples below for more about this.)The feature doesn't make any additional private information public–it only draws from the things people have shared and liked publicly on Facebook, which means it is only as useful as your friends are active on Facebook. It does make information about your friends really easy to access though, so this is also a good time to revisit your privacy settings to be sure you're not sharing more than you meant to.
How is it useful? Well, for example, if you were planning an outing to a local jazz musician's show, with Facebook's new search tools you could look up which of your friends live in the area and like jazz music, or even which friends like the specific artist you have in mind. Looking for a place to eat before the show? You can use Graph Search to check out which restaurants near the venue have been liked by your friends, or even which restaurants your friends have checked in at, if you'd like to ask for a personal review from one of them.
Is Graph Search a good way to find someone you're not already friends with? In most situations, no, not really. Graph search is great if you have a list of interests, a location, or a set of preferences and you're looking for people who share those characteristics, but it's not designed to help you find a specific person. The one (admittedly useful) exception to this is if you meet someone, say at a friend's party, and you can't remember her name. If you know just a few things about her, you can easily get a short list of people who fit those things. For example, if you meet someone at your friend Paul's birthday party and can only remember that she went to the University of Iowa, she works for Google, and she really likes dogs, you could quickly pull up a list all of Paul's friends who went to the University of Iowa, work for Google, and like dogs, which is a lot easier to look through than all of Paul's friends.
So how will it change how I use Facebook? Well, for most people, it won't change anything for quite a while. Graph Search is out in an extremely limited beta, so only a tiny fraction of Facebook's users have access to it now. (If you'd like to get it sooner rather than later, you can sign up for the waitlist on Facebook now.) As the feature is rolled out to more users, it should get progressively more useful.
Once it's in wide use, it could certainly change how you use Facebook. For one thing, Graph Search incentivizes sharing a lot more information, so the search function can include you in its results for your friends. If you've been waiting to update the list of artists you like or more information about places you've been, Graph Search may be a good reason to get that stuff up now. That said, it may also raise privacy concerns for a lot of users, so consider carefully how much information you're ok with people being able to see about you and revisit your privacy settings to be sure you're not sharing more than you mean to.
On the day that Facebook has gone public, it is also being sued for $15 billion by users who claim that Facebook was tracking their Internet usage, even after they had logged out of Facebook. The lawsuit is a combination of 21 other cases that have been filed against Facebook. This is just another case in a long string of privacy issues that Facebook has run into recently.
Germany is actually warning its business investors to stay away from Facebook's IPO because they say that the social network actually violates European privacy laws, and that they are soon going to try and stop Facebook from transferring personal user information from Europe back to the U.S. Another European activist organization is trying to force Facebook to let their users vote on the company's new privacy policies. And all of this comes on the heels of other social networking sites, such as Twitter, offering users a "Do Not Track" privacy option on their site.
If you are worried about your own privacy on Facebook, check out our video tutorial on how to adjust your privacy settings. You can also check out AVG's new "Do Not Track" function on their security software suite, which will block sites like Facebook from tracking your Internet usage. If you want to make sure your identity hasn't been stolen due to online privacy issues, check out our reviews of the top identity theft protection sites.
Tomorrow is the day that everybody has been waiting for, the day Facebook goes public. But along with all the accolades and excitement, Facebook's IPO has also brought some scrutiny to how the company handles the privacy and security of its users. In a recent survey by AP and CNBC, 59% of Facebook users said that they have little to no faith in Facebook to keep their personal information private. Only 13% of those surveyed said that they had complete faith in Facebook. So there are obviously some trust issues between Facebook and its users.
As Facebook's popularity continues to increase, so does the hacking attempts on the social network. Hackers can now use a wide range of scams to use people's Facebook pages against them, including hacking into their account to get personal information, taking over their account to hack their friends' accounts, cloning or creating a fake Facebook page with the user's account, and hacking in to the unprotected information that the holes in Facebook's privacy settings leave vulnerable.
In addition to their privacy issues, Facebook has also traditionally had security issues, especially when it comes to spam. Recently, they teamed up with some of the top security software to help detect and block more of the spam that is common on Facebook. But just as the company is ready to go public, a new security threat is surfacing: the "LilyJade" worm. The worm uses a link to video to get users to click, which then prompts them to accept the "video viewer" plugin permissions to watch the video, which is a common practice on Facebook. Once they agree, LilyJade then periodically posts videos in the user's news feed to help spread the worm. And as Facebook's popularity and functionality increases, so will new hacking and spamming attempts on the social network.
So how do you keep your Facebook account as protected as possible?
1) Make sure all your privacy settings are set to the most secure setting. Here's how.
2) Always be careful of what you are clicking on when using Facebook. If you click on a link that requires an app to have access to your account, make sure that app is safe before you grant access.
If you want to boost the security of your computer to help make your Facebook page more secure, check out our reviews of the top security software to find one that's right for you. If you want to make sure you aren't the victim of a privacy scam on Facebook, check out our reviews of the top Identity Theft protection programs and find one that you are comfortable with to help protect your identity.
Ever get tricked by one of those spam links on Facebook? Well, you can click without fear. Facebook is partnering with McAfee, TrendMicro, Symantec's Norton and other security software companies to help boost the security offerings on their website, according to Facebook’s Chief Security Officer, Joe Sullivan.
Facebook will now incorporate the malicious URL databases from all the security software companies into their URL blacklist systems, which will effectively block those sites from being posted on Facebook. Between Facebook's own list of malicious URLs and the added URLs from the security software companies, most malicious sites should be blocked. Norton is also known for its cloud-based information sharing technology that notifies and updates Norton software when any of the computers the software is installed on comes across a new virus or malicious site, which means new spam links should also be blocked from Facebook before they go viral.
If you are looking to protect more than your Facebook page, most of the top security software that we review provides reliable, advanced virus and malware detection along with extra scan protection for your Facebook page. To check out our reviews and compare the different security software suites, click here.
Disclosure: NextAdvisor.com is a consumer information site that offers free, independent reviews and ratings of online services. We receive advertising revenue from most of the services we review. Our editors thoroughly research and whenever possible test each service we review and offer their honest opinions about each one. We are independently owned and operated and all opinions expressed on this site are our own.