Jun 152014

You hear a lot of scare stories about people getting “hacked” on Facebook.  Here’s the latest one I heard from a friend of mine:

Three friends of mine have had imposters make up Facebook accounts using their names, profile picture, and other information that was public on their page. Then, they harvested my friends’ public list of friends, and sent fake friend requests to them, instructing them to delete the “old” (REAL) accounts due to some phony made up computer problem. In the most recent, the imposter claimed the real account was lost to a Trojan on her Facebook. There is no such thing as a Trojan on Facebook but many people fell for it anyway. In every case…the imposter took the profile of a female friend in her late 50s or early 60s who is very trustworthy, admired, and who has friends who also look trustworthy (trusting!) and in every case, was able to convince people to befriend the imposter account.

The easy way to prevent the above scam from happening to you is to make your Friend List private.  This must be done on a computer, the option doesn’t exist on phone and tablet Facebook apps. Here’s a tutorial video for members: 398. Facebook – Keeping Friends Private

  1. View your Profile and click on the tab for Friends
  2. At the top right of your friend list, you’ll see a pencil icon – click on that and choose Edit Privacy
  3. Under “Who can See My Friend List” click the dropdown arrow and choose anything but Public.  I recommend “Friends except Acquaintances”, but you may even want to make it “Just Me.”
  4. Here is the official Facebook help page on “Who can see my Friends Section of my Timeline?

And, as long as you’re looking into your Facebook settings, let’s look at a few more, ok?


There are three areas of your Facebook account settings that need your regular attention.


General: Check your email address here and make sure it is current.  You should also add at least one alternate email address in case you have a problem with the primary one.  This is where you can change your password.  Whenever there is any hint of a problem with your Facebook account, like you suspect an impostor is trying to take over, you should immediately change your password.

Security:  Think of these settings like the locks and alarm system on your house.  You don’t want unauthorized people to get into your account, and you want want to hear about any attempts. Under Login approvals, check the box to require a security code from unknown browsers.  This adds a double-lock, like another deadbolt with a separate key.  Now, whenever you login from any computer or browser other than your norm, after entering your password, you will be asked for another code – one that is delivered to you on your phone.  This adds a little bit of hassle, but it will stop an intruder dead in their tracks.  Even if they know your username and password, since they don’t have your phone they won’t know the extra security code. Note: you must provide your cell phone number in the Mobile section of your account settings.


Privacy: The settings in this area describe “Who Can See Your Stuff?” I show you my settings in the screenshot below.  You should look at each one and be sure you are comfortable with how it is set.  Here is the official Facebook help page on Privacy settings.


Geeks on Tour members should also watch the tutorial video about the audience selector and how you can choose who can see each thing you post.

What do other people see when they view your Facebook timeline?  It’s easy to find out.  Just go to your Timeline by clicking on your name in the upper right – or clicking on your profile picture anywhere. Now you should see “View Activity Log” at the top right with 3 dots after that.  Click the 3 dots and then choose “View As…”  That will tell Facebook to treat you like a member of the Public and show you what they would see.  You can also choose a particular person and see your Timeline as they would see it.


This is a great way to check if your settings are the way you want.  If you followed the instructions at the beginning of this article, you should now be able to click on Friends, and you won’t see any!

Thanks to Debby Bradford for the info and push to make this post.


Traveling the country in an RV with her husband, Jim. We present seminars at RV rallies and computer clubs all over the country.

  2 Responses to “How to Keep Your Facebook Account Safe”

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  1. Thanks for this article. My FB account was hacked and now an imposter has set up an e-mail at Yahoo using my name. How do I report him to Yahoo?
    You are providing a fine service to us novices out here and you are much appreciated.
    Thanks again

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