Facebook can be fabulous for your author platform and help you communicate with your readers in a way that can rival other social media platforms.
You can find numerous blog posts that will teach you how to make the most of this powerful marketing tool and make it sound as though Facebook is fun, exciting and extraordinary for your business goals. It can be.
Today, I’m discussing a different topic about Facebook. I want authors to feel safe online, and so I’m sharing information on ways to improve your security settings that you might not find elsewhere. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use Facebook. I am saying that you likely need to read this post and recheck your security settings, especially if you’re a woman writer.
When was the last time you checked your privacy settings on Facebook?
Well, things have changed at the Great Mall of America of social media with 1.44 billion users.
And I had a feeling you’d appreciate a refresher.
Now don’t start yawning on me. This is important stuff.
Cyberstalking Affects More Women than Men – No Surprise
If you’re a woman reading this post, you may be more sensitive about Facebook security than your male counterparts.
I have some personal experience in this area. There’s research to back me up on this, too.
At HaltAbuse.org, there are these interesting 2013 cyberstalking statistics.
- The #1 location in the United States for victims and harassers is California (my home state).
- Most victims tend to be in the 18 – 40-year-old age group.
- Women are cyberstalked at a rate of 60%, compared to men, 40%.
- Harassment usually begins with email and escalates first on Facebook.
- Threats of offline violence occur in 25% of the cases.
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Younger women are more often to be victimized according to this article titled Cyberstalking and Women – Facts and Statistics.
National figures show victims of cyberstalking tend to be females during the college ages 18-29, but women are not the only targets. A survey of 765 students at Rutgers University and the University of Pennsylvania found 45 percent of stalkers to be female and 56 percent to be male. National figures show most stalkers to be male by overwhelming margins (87 percent.) Men represented over 40 percent of stalking victims in the Penn-Rutgers study.
One of Facebook’s Best Moves Ever – $1 for Your Thoughts
Before Facebook started charging users $1 to send someone who wasn’t a confirmed friend a private message, I used to get the silliest messages from men all the time.
They would send me emails that would arrive in the “other inbox” on Facebook. They’d start like this:
“I can’t take my eyes off of you.” (Did they learn that line from Frankie Valli?)
“You’re so beautiful.” (You’ve never seen me first thing in the morning.)
“Would you like to meet for a drink?” (Never.)
Then I had an issue with a stalker. I not only blocked that guy I went straight to his employer, a Kaiser Permanente facility in my community.
As luck would have it, the intake worker at Kaiser didn’t know how to use Facebook so she didn’t understand how I could receive salacious messages that no one else could publicly see. But she believed me.
So, like I said, when was the last time you checked your security settings. Well, let’s take a look.
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Facebook’s Privacy Checkup Shortcut
If you navigate to your profile and look at the top blue taskbar, on the right, you’ll see a lock. This icon is your shortcut to your privacy settings.
“Who can see my stuff?” – When you click on you’ll see this drop-down menu:
In my case, my posts are set to Public because I share my blog posts occasionally on my profile, and I want to be found on the web.
“Where do I review ….” – I’m not sure why the activity log is next. It simply indicates which posts you’ve liked and commented on.
“What do other people see on my timeline?” – This setting will remind you whether you allow future friends to see all of your posts or whether you hide your Timeline posts from “nonfriends.” I’m not overly personal on Facebook so I don’t mind if other people who send me friend requests can see my posts. It does bother me when someone sends me a friend request, and I can’t see any of their posts. When this happens, I ignore the friend request. Why? Because I’ve been burned. There have been people who have sent me friend requests, and once I accept them, post pictures of women in bras on my Timeline and then tagged me. So my advice – which is different than what others will say – is that I’m selective about who I accept as a Facebook friend. If you’re a domestic violence or rape survivor, or if you’ve had a stalker, you’ll want to think about what level of openness makes you feel most comfortable.
“Who can contact me?” – Okay, this is where I get super strict. Here are my settings:
Yep, I only accept private messages from friends. And I like it that way. I’m also strict about friend requests. If you want to expand your platform on Facebook, you will want to liberalize these settings.
I used to have liberal settings but as I mentioned before, I’ve been burned more than once. Now I work on expanding my platform on other social media networks, such as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
“How do I stop someone from bothering me?” – I love that you can block people so simply now. Just enter their name in the box and they can’t ever contact you again – well, on Facebook.
Dig Deeper into Your Facebook Privacy Settings
After you click the lock in the taskbar, you’ll see this message at the bottom of the first drop-down box: See More Settings or visit Privacy Basics. Click on See More Settings and you’ll arrive at this page:
Let’s look at the settings under Timeline and Tagging. You’ll see that this is where I’m strict as well.
I like to see what friends what to post on my Timeline before it happens. Again, this comes from personal experience of being burned. I’ve also accepted friend requests from authors who then use my Timeline to promote their books. That really makes me mad.
I also like to have some control over images I’m tagged in. Let’s face it, I’m not photogenic, and I’m somewhat of a public figure in the sense that I’m out there promoting my services and books. I also want to maintain a professional image consistent with my brand.
Under Blocking, you can block other users, app invites, event invites, applications and pages. For awhile I was receiving too many invitations to games that I don’t have time to play or have any interest in playing. So I simply blocked the invitations:
Facebook Improves Logins
As of April 30 of this year, Facebook now gives users more control over what information they share with applications.
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This is a great move.
This is what all the fuss is about. Let’s say that you find a new application, and you want to try the free version. You have some choices in how you can sign up. You can login with Facebook, or you can create an account using an email address and password.
If you use Facebook to login, you’ll now have more control over what information you need to reveal to the app to login quickly through Facebook.
According to Social Times:
If users don’t want to share their birthday, likes or email address, they can opt out before connecting to the app.
Since the new login began, there has been an 11% jump in people logging into apps through Facebook. “This shows that when people are given more choices about what Facebook information they choose to share with apps, they’re more apt to login.”
How secure do you feel on Facebook?
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About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by signing up for her newsletter. Connect with Frances on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+.