Facebook privacy checkupIf you’ve used Facebook’s mobile application in the last month, you might have gotten a visit from a little blue dinosaur. This cute little fella is Facebook’s security and privacy mascot and he’s here to inform you about Facebook’s privacy checkup feature, which alerts you to the status of your account’s privacy. This feature is part of an increasing trend to make privacy and basic security easy and accessible to users. Google is another company that’s developed similar features for its users.

What is the mobile Facebook privacy checkup?

Facebook’s privacy checkup feature has existed since September 2014 on its desktop site, yet this is the first time it’s appearing to mobile Facebook users. Unfortunately, Facebook hasn’t exactly made it clear what triggers the privacy checkup on the mobile version or if the site intends to make it manually accessible in the future, as it is with the desktop version. Instead, you’ll have to wait for a notification in order for the checkup to activate. If you do receive a notification from a blue dinosaur, make sure you don’t ignore it, as it will walk you through the privacy settings on your Facebook account to make sure your posts, personal information and biographical information are secure.

Facebook privacy checkup

Although you can only access the tool if you receive the notification, there are other ways you can check on your settings (see screenshots above). If you’re on mobile and want to edit your settings, click on the three horizontal lines on the top right of your news feed and select “Privacy Settings” from that menu — it’s near the bottom. From there, you’ll be able to edit many of the same settings the checkup has you edit; the checkup simply makes things faster. Once you’ve checked those settings, you can also click “Privacy Basics” or “More Settings” to see all of your privacy options. Not sure how to adjust these settings? Visit this Facebook help section page to learn more.

How can I complete a privacy checkup on the desktop site?

Accessing the privacy checkup on the desktop site is easy. Simply locate the lock icon at the top right of the screen (near your profile button) and click on it to open a drop-down menu.

Facebook privacy checkup

Next, click on Facebook’s friendly dinosaur and you’ll be led to the privacy checkup feature. From there, you can control who sees your future posts, what applications have access to your account as well as your overall profile visibility.

Facebook privacy checkup

Section one, which controls who can see future posts, is pretty straightforward. Keep in mind that you can also edit your posts’ visibility whenever you’re about to share one by clicking on the button next to “Post.” There you’ll be able to select whether you’d like to post publicly, share the post with your friends, post it so only you can see or create a custom audience.

Section two shows you what apps have access to your Facebook account. Apps refer to any interactive third party feature. This can include anything from logging into another service (like accessing Spotify with Facebook) to games you played through your Facebook account, like Farmville. If you have a pretty extensive Facebook history and have played lots of quizzes and games, you might want to tidy up this section by revoking these apps from accessing your account and deleting posts associated with said apps.

Section three lets you review your account’s biographical information (email(s), birthday, hometown) and who can see it when viewing your profile. When it comes to this information, it may be better to opt to keep it friends only, or set it to “Only Me” for total privacy, as these may be the keys to unlocking your identity. If you do opt to include your birthday — there’s nothing wrong with wanting to receive a flood of happy messages on your special day — set it so only the month and date are visible.

Additional settings

If you click on the “See More Settings” option at the bottom of the privacy drop-down menu, you can see and edit all of your privacy settings. These include login features, reviewing what you’ve posted and what you’re tagged in, whether you want to be indexed on search engines and much more. Many of these settings and features are fairly descriptive and thus easy to follow. At your leisure, you should definitely review these more comprehensive settings to make sure they’re to your liking.

Why is this important?

Tech companies are finally realizing the necessity of placing privacy and security into their users’ hands. As such, this is a feature you should definitely take advantage of, as it will allow you to control the extent of your digital footprint. Using this feature on your or your children’s Facebook pages can protect your identities and ensure you’re not needlessly oversharing.

If you want more cybersecurity and privacy tips to keep your web surfing and social media sessions safe, take a look at our Facebook blog or privacy blog.