Staying safe on Facebook

This is a guest post by a participant from a Hollaback! Chennai workshop for students.

Most of us have an account on Facebook. We love uploading our pictures, posting comments, and so on. But we have to careful, alert and aware of the privacy settings which are available on Facebook, and use them wisely. I opened my account after my 10th standard board examinations. I realized that being on Facebook was so much fun, but as days went by I started receiving friend requests from unknown people. I also wasted lots of time chatting with strangers, which I later realized was very unproductive. As I didn’t know much about the privacy settings, I could not keep my account protected; but after going through the privacy settings in depth, I understood how I should go about keeping myself safe on Facebook.

There can be instances wherein we don’t want other people to add us. In such cases, we can go to the gear icon in the top-right corner of the page and choose ‘Privacy Settings’. On this page, under ‘Who can look me up?’, we can choose the option ‘Friends’, and remove the tick from the statement, ‘Let other search engines link to your timeline’ under the question ‘Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?’. Under  ‘Who can contact me?’,  we can choose ‘Strict Filtering’ in response to the question, ‘Whose messages do I want filtered into my Inbox?’

For the question, ‘Who can send you friend requests?’, we can choose the option, ‘Friends of Friends’. For the question, ‘Who can see my stuff?’, we can customize our settings to ensure the privacy we desire. If you follow these settings, no stranger can add you, they can only message you, and only you can add people.

Sometimes when we are on Facebook, we might not want to chat with someone. In that case, we can go to ‘Chat’ at the bottom right of the screen, click the ‘Options’ icon, and go to ‘Advanced Settings’, where we can choose the option, ‘Turn on chat for all friends except…’ For example, if you do not want to appear online when Rahul Gandhi is online, you can choose the option, ‘Turn on chat for all friends except Rahul Gandhi’.

Facebook can be very productive, if we know how to use it safely. Please do not accept friend requests from strangers. I encourage each one of you to spend some time getting to know the privacy settings on Facebook in detail, and applying it accordingly if you face any kind of harassment.

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  1. […] In a guest post, a student who attended a Hollaback! Chennai workshop on street sexual harassment shares her tips on staying safe from online harassment while using Facebook. Read the entire post here. […]

  2. Personally, I’m not a fan of giving everybody in the world access to my phone numbers, email addresses, or anything else that makes it extremely easy for them to contact me. That’s why I highly suggest customizing your privacy settings for your contact information. This is pretty easy to accomplish. Head back to the main privacy page and click on “Customize Settings” once again. Scroll down to “Contact Information” and customize your information, especially your phone number, email addresses, and home address if you were crazy enough to post that on your Facebook profile!

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