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Facebook Messenger Safety

How to stay safe on Facebook messenger


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life


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If you’re looking to keep in touch with your mates and family as often as possible, Facebook Messenger is one of your best bets. It’s a messaging app, seperate to the main Facebook app. You can use it to send messages, images, and videos, between yourself and other users of the app.

You don’t need to have a Facebook account to use Messenger, you can just use a mobile number. If you do have a Facebook account, it will be linked to it. There are benefits to having your Facebook account linked, it makes things much easier in terms of accessing safety features. 

You can share text based messages, stickers, photos, video, and live video. 

It's a great platform for keeping in touch, but it’s good to be aware of how to use it safely. Here are the main safety features to look out for:

How to block someone

Blocking someone will mean they will no longer be able to contact you on Facebook Messenger.

Android - To block someone, tap the 'i' icon at the top of the chat. Then tap the three dots icon in the top right corner. Scroll down and select 'Block'. Then select 'Block all messages'.

iOS - To block someone, open the chat and tap on their name on the top of the conversation. From there, scroll down and tap on 'Block'.

The block screen for messenger on Facebook

Above: The block screen for a conversation on Android (left) and iOS (right).

How to report an abusive message

If you’ve received an abusive message, you can report it by heading over to the Facebook website from your mobile browser, or a PC/Laptop. At this time you can't report a message from within the iOS or Android app (but you can block them).

To report the message, you need to visit Facebook.com.

  • Go to Facebook.com on your phones or laptop/pc browser.
  • Go to the Messages section on the left hand side and open up the conversation.
  • Click on the settings gear on the top of the conversation and click 'Report'.
  • Follow the on screen instructions to report someone.

Reporting several messages

You can also report a message by filling out this form, which will allow you to provide more context around what's happening. This is especially useful if there are several harrassing messages that you want to report and give a full explanation.

Reporting blackmail or the threat of sharing intimate images

Facebook now also have a specific form if someone is threatening to share things that you want to keep private, whether that be messages, images or videos. This is especially for content of a sexual nature. You can find the form here.

If you're being bullied or harrassed, but it's doesn't involve sexual content, you can fill out this form.

Looking after your location

Facebook Messenger includes a location services feature. When enabled, this means that when you send a message, the person who receives the message can automatically see your location, on a map. Your location won’t appear anywhere outside of this message.

For Android - You can turn this off by disabling location services for messenger in your location settings on your device.

For iOS - You will need to disable location services for the app in the Settings of your iPhone/iPad.

Can I delete my messenger conversations?

Yes. You can delete your messenger conversations by swiping left across the conversation you want to delete (on iOS/Apple), and tapping delete. For Android you need to click the "i" icon and select the 3 dots and then click delete. 

But remember that deleting a message or conversation from your inbox won't delete it from your friend's inbox. It isn't possible to delete sent or received messages from a friend's inbox.

How to deactivate your account

Facebook Messenger is uninstalled like any other app. This will vary a bit from phone to phone, but follow the standard process for uninstalling that you would for any other app.

Secret conversations

Facebook have introduced a feature that allows you to have a conversating 'in secret' with another person on messenger. These messages are end-to-end encrypted, meaning the only people who can see what's in the messages are you and the person you're talking to. This can make your conversations even more secure, but remember there's no guarantee that anything will stay private. It's still possible for someone to screenshot the conversation to share it with others. You can permanently delete all secret conversations by selecting 'delete all secret conversations' in settings. 

Help

For more help, check out Facebook Messenger’s Help Centre here.

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Published January 19th, 2015
Last updated February 14th, 2018
Tags facebook online safety internet safety
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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