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Facebook Safety Factsheet

All you need to know from blocking, reporting and privacy


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


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We're all living our lives online these days but it's important to remember to look after ourselves on the world wide web.

Knowledge, as they say, is power, so here's what you need to know about staying safe on Facebook.

How do I check or change my Privacy Settings?

It's really important to make sure you're aware of who can see what you're doing, saying and sharing on Facebook. 

See that little padlock with the three bars beside it in the menu bar? That's where you'll find your privacy settings.

Facebook has recently introduced Bob The Dinosaur, who guides all users through a privacy checkup. This new tool helps you quickly check your privacy settings regarding personal posts, apps you use via Facebook and your profile.

You can also get a more detailed rundown at Facebook's dedicated Privacy Basics page. 

How do I decide who can see my profile and contact me on Facebook?

You can control these things via your Security Settings, which are found by clicking the padlock and selecting 'See More Settings'.

Facebook leaves it up to you to decide who can send you friend requests, who can or can't contact you, and how people can find your profile online.

Make sure to check your settings and decide which ones are most suitable for you.

Who can see my status updates, photos and things on my timeline?

Only you and your friends can post to your timeline. When you post something however you can control who sees it by using the audience selector so it can be set to either public or friends/friends of friends. 

When other people post on your timeline, you can control who sees this information. Scroll up to the top of your profile, find the Activity Log button and click the three little dots beside it. You can also access this function on the mobile app by clicking the three dots to the right of the activity log on your profile page. 

This will give you the option to head back to your Timeline Settings.

Here you're given the option to control a number of things including "who can see what others post on your timeline".

If you want to double check what your profile looks like from someone else's perspective, you can choose the 'View As' option pictured above and type in a name. It'll also allow you to see what your profile looks like to a stranger online.

How do I block someone on Facebook?

If you want to block someone you can go to your Privacy settings and click on the tab for "How do I stop someone from bothering me?", as below. You can also block people who send you a friend request by selecting the option to block on the drop-down menu (bottom right of cover photo) on their profile page.


Reporting content

If you find a comment or content abusive or offensive on Facebook you can report it by clicking on the pencil menu to the right of the post. Your reporting will be anonymous so anyone or post you report won't contain any info to suggest who you are. 

Screenshot of how to report a post on Facebook.

How do I report a page?

If you want to report a page you can go to the page you want to report and click on the ‘...’ dropdown menu as below.

how to report a page on facebook

How do I report a photo?

If you want to report a photo, you can simply select 'options' on the bottom of the picture and click 'report'. 

reporting a photo on facebook

How do I unfriend someone?

If you no longer want to be friends with someone or want to block them from viewing your profile at all, you can go to that friend's page and on the bottom right hand corner of their cover photo, where it says 'Friends', click the dropdown where you will see an option to 'unfriend'.

unfriend on facebook

You can add a friend again later by sending them a friend request.

How do I deactivate or get rid of my account?

If you want to take a temporary break from Facebook and have your page disappear with you, you can 'deactivate' your account.

  • Head to your Settings, click on Security and at the end of the list of options you should see an option to deactivate. 
  • You can always reactivate your account at a later date if you decide you want to come back.
deactivate account on facebook

Social reporting:

This type of reporting is for something that you might not be happy with but that doesn't break Facebook's Terms of Services. It allows you to contact the person or page that you have an issue with and ask them to take content down.

Most people will but in some cases of bullying, you might not be comfortable asking yourself so you could ask a parent, teacher or trusted friend to do it for you. You can check out Facebook's Report Links here.

Top Safety Tips:

  • Only add or accept friend requests from people you actually know.
  • Choose a good password and don't share it with anyone.
  • If it looks like a dodgy link or spam, it probably is so don't click on it.
  • Always log out of your account when using other people's computers or if you're on a shared computer.

Under 18? Remember:

Previously 13-18 year old FB users were considered 'minors' and so could only share content with friends. However, this has changed and now these posts can be viewed publicly and even shared so it may be wise to update your audience options for posts (see above).

Get to grips with Graph Search

Graph Search makes it easier to search for the information you share on Facebook. So whether that's your photos, pages you like, TV shows you watch, people will be able to search things like "friends who like Breaking Bad" or "photos of friends in Thailand".

As this feature makes it easier for people to find info you share, it might be a good idea to go back through some of this information and decide whether it's something you want to be easily searchable and to choose the audience for things you post or have posted. With graph search people can only see things that have already been shared with them, there are no changes to who can see your stuff. Check out this Factsheet from Childnet for more. 

Suicide Prevention:

If you come across someone who is suicidal or are worried about a post, check Facebook's Suicide prevention tools for advice about what to do.

Safety Centre

If you're still worried then be sure to check out Facebook's Safety Centre for more useful tips.

Anti Bullying Centre 

Facebook have recently launched a resource page that is focused on bullying and abuse. It has a list of some really useful tools and resources to help fight bullying on the platform. Click here to visit the resource

How do I run a security check up?

Facebook have recently launched a really useful tool to allow you to check how secure your account it. The check takes your through: 

  • What apps and browsers you're currently logged into and allows you to sign out of them if you wish. 
  • To set up alerts to let you know when your account is being logged into a device/app.
  • Gives you a chance to review how strong your password is.

You can start your security check up here.

The support dashboard 

A really useful place on Facebook to check in on the things you've reported to see if action has been taken. Facebook feeds back to you on what action they have taken and why. It also directs you to some of the resources discussed earlier - www.facebook.com/support

Screenshot of Facebook's safety centre
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Published October 22nd, 2013
Last updated March 31st, 2017
Tags facebook social media online
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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