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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Time to Spring Clean Your Facebook Account



By Robyn Wright

Spring is the time we clean our homes and, as Facebook is the digital home for so many of us, it needs a bit of cleaning and care as well. There are no special tools or magical formulas to help with this. It is just one of those tasks that you have to do regardless.

This cleanup is not so much about making things look pretty but more about maintenance to help keep your Facebook account running smoothly. Unfortunately, Facebook changes the policies and privacy options fairly often and it can be confusing to find out where to go and what to do to protect your account. However, because Facebook is so popular, that means it is also popular with hackers who can really mess things up. I suggest you try to do this spring cleanup on a computer rather than on a smartphone or tablet. The mobile apps do not have the same functionality as the desktop version of Facebook.

Start out by logging in to your Facebook account and go to Settings, which is accessed by clicking the little wheel at the top right of any page. The first thing to do is change your password. You probably have not done that in a while. Remember to make your password a combination of letters and numbers and not just regular words.

On the left side of the Settings page you will see several different areas that have more detail. Even if you are unfamiliar with them, it is important to go into each and check them out. You might be surprised at the things you can actually have some control over. In the Security section, you can even set it so you receive notifications when someone is trying to access your account.

The Privacy area is where you can set the defaults for who sees and who doesn’t see what you post on Facebook and how people can find you. The more private you want to be, the tighter you need to set these parameters. You can always change them again later.

Under the Notifications area, you can adjust when you get notices related to Facebook activity about you and your friends. It can really be helpful to limit your notifications, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by them.

Another area you need to take some time to clean up is the Apps section. Here is where all those apps that have permission to access your account. Many people are surprised at how many apps are listed here. Go through the list and remove any that you don’t remember or have not used in a long time. By clicking the Edit link by any of the apps, you can get more detailed information on what permissions that app has and you can make adjustments. If you disallow any app by mistake, don’t worry. When you go to a page on Facebook that uses that app, you can always add it back later.

There is one important thing to check that is not in the Settings area. Instead, go to your profile (Timeline) page and on the left side you will see a section labeled Friends. Hover over the top right to show the little pencil (it will say Manage) and click on it; then click on Edit Privacy.

For your Friend List, I suggest that you do not make this public. The reason is that hackers can create fake accounts using your name and photo and then start friending everyone you are already friends with. By changing this setting from public to a more restrictive setting like Friends or Only Me, you are removing a lot of the incentive for hackers to mess with your account.

Now is also a good time to unfriend anyone that you do not remember or no longer interact with. Think about updating your personal photo and your cover photo too.

Taking the time to perform these small cleanup tasks will help secure your account and make your overall Facebook experience more enjoyable.

Robyn Wright is a social media specialist and blogs on her own blog, RobynsOnlineWorld.com, as well as several other sites. Robyn has a love for family, technology, food and lots of apps!



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