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How to stay safe on Facebook Messenger

Find out about the different settings you can use to protect yourself when using Facebook Messenger


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


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Facebook Messenger is one of the most popular messaging services worldwide. Although most people who use it also have a Facebook account, the Facebook Messenger app is separate to the main Facebook app. 

How to use Facebook Messenger

You can use Messenger to send messages, images, gifs and videos between yourself and other users of the app. You can have a direct chat with one other person, create a group chat for multiple people, or start a secret conversation, which means the messages you send in the secret conversation will disappear after a set amount of time.

There's also a built-in 'Stories' feature that allows you to share images and videos with all of your contacts for 24 hours. Your Messenger stories can be connected to your Instagram stories.

Do you need a Facebook account to use Facebook Messenger?

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. This means that whoever is friends with you on Facebook will be able to contact you on Messenger, unless you block them from contacting you.

Staying safe on Facebook Messenger

Here are important features to know about when it comes to using Facebook Messenger.

In this section:

How to block someone on Facebook Messenger

Blocking someone will mean they will no longer be able to contact you on Facebook Messenger. However, blocking someone on Messenger does not mean they will be blocked on Facebook - they will still be able to view your profile. If you don't want them to be able to see your profile, you will need to block them on Facebook too.

Here are the steps to follow to block someone on Messenger:

  • From Chats, open a conversation with the person you want to block
  • Tap their name at the top of the conversation
  • Scroll down and tap Block
  • Tap Block on Messenger > Block

How to report someone on Facebook Messenger

If you’ve received an abusive message, you can report it in the app and on your computer. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Open the conversation and tap the person's name at the top
  • Scroll down and tap Something's Wrong
  • Select a category to help us understand what's wrong
  • Tap Send Feedback
  • Tap Report Conversation > Report Entire Conversation

If you want to report a secret conversation, follow the same steps. Although messages in secret conversations disappear after a certain amount of time, you can still report them for a short time afterwards.

If you are being blackmailed or someone is threatening to share intimate images, you can fill out this form to report it to Facebook.

Ignoring someone on Messenger

If you don't want to block someone but you also don't want to see their messages, you can ignore the conversations. This means you won't get a notification when they send you a new message, and it will be moved to your connection requests, so you will have to go in and approve the conversation to start seeing it again. The other person won't know you ignored the conversation. 

  • From Chats, open the conversation you want to ignore.
  • Tap the name at the top of the conversation.
  • Scroll down, tap Ignore Messages, then tap Ignore Messages again.

Looking after your location

It's possible to share your exact location with someone in messenger. This allows you to show someone where you are, and it will continue to track your location for up to an hour or until you turn it off, even when you're not using the app. Be careful about who you share your location with, and make sure this has been switched off when you no longer need to share it. 

You can also decide whether or not to share your location with the app by accessing the location sharing settings in your device.

Can I delete my messages or conversations?

It is possible to delete messages, photos, or entire conversations.

Here are the steps to follow to delete an entire conversation:

  • View your conversations from Chats
  • Swipe left on the conversation you want to delete
  • Tap the bin icon
  • Tap Delete or Delete Chat

Here are the steps to follow to delete a message or image:

  • From Chats, open a conversation
  • Tap and hold the message or photo you'd like to delete
  • Tap Remove, and then tap Remove for You or Remove for Everyone

Remove for You will just delete it from your device, but it won't remove it from the other person's device. Remove for Everyone will delete it from you friend's device too.

Deleting Facebook Messenger

To delete Facebook Messenger, uninstall it from your device like any other app. 

Deleting Facebook Messenger is not the same as deactivating your Facebook account. If you want to delete your profile entirely, you will need to follow the steps for deactivating a Facebook account

Secret conversations

Facebook have introduced a feature that allows you to have a conversation '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. Secret conversations also allow you to set a timer on your messages so they will disappear after a set amount of time.

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. Remember, this will only delete it from your device, you can't delete sent or received messages from someone else's device.

Accepting message requests

Occasionally you might receive a message request from someone you don't know or are not friends with on Facebook. Be careful about who you accept message requests from. Only ever accept requests from people you know. If you accept a message request from someone and they are making you uncomfortable, block them. 

Help

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

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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Published Jan­u­ary 19th2015
Last updated May 23rd2018
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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