HowTo: Setup secure and private Facebook browsing

This howto guide will take you through securing your Facebook account, enable settings for improved privacy, disabling features where your Facebook information can be shared with third-party sites, and finally setting up your browser for private sharing

Step 1. Securing your Facebook account

Go to Security Settings

  1. Edit 'Secure Browsing' and enable it.Edit 'Login Notifications' and check either email or text messages, or both
  2. Edit 'Login Approvals' and enable the option. This will send your phone an SMS message each time a user attempts to login on an unrecognized browser.
  3. Click edit on 'Active Sessions' and delete any old login sessions

Click on the 'Facebook Ads' tab in Settings. Click on both 'Edit third party ad settings' and 'Edit social ad settings' and make sure both are set to share to 'no one'.

While you are here in settings, click on 'General' and then 'Password' and change your password. See this Microsoft guide on choosing a strong password.

Step 2. Settings up Privacy Settings

Go to the Privacy Settings preference pane.

1. Click 'edit settings' next to 'How to Connect' and set each option to 'friends' at a minimum.

2. Disable Instant Personalization. Instant personalization is where partner sites can see your Facebook profile and information without you logging in. Have you ever landed on a website and been surprised that they know who you are? That is instant personalization.

To disable it:

  1. On the page click 'edit settings' next to 'Apps and Websites'
  2. Click 'edit settings' next to 'Instant Personalization'
  3. Click 'close' on the 'Understanding Instant Personalization' dialog
  4. Uncheck the 'Enable Instant Personalization' checkbox
  5. Ignore the warning and confirm

3. Go back to the Privacy Settings page and set the default sharing permission to 'friends'. It is better to start with a low default and to enable more permissions for some type of posts than to start with everything being public and working back.

4. Go to the Applications page and remove all applications that you do not use.

Step 3. Setting up Private Browsing

The best way to privately browse the web without widgets and other beacons sending data back to a social network is to use two browsers:

Browser 1 is used for all general web surfing. Clear all cookies on this browser and make sure you are logged out of all social networks on it.

Browser 2 is used for Facebook and other social networks. Clear all cookies again and login to your social networks here. Do not use this browser for other web surfing.

A good browser choice is to use two of Safari, Chrome or Firefox.

Install the following private browsing plugins:

Disconnect: Disconnect is a browser plugin for Chrome, Firefox or Safari that will block all widgets from the common social networks and other sites that run third-party apps.

Adblock: Install AdBlock for Chrome and Firefox

Further, by going into the preferences of the browser that you use for web surfing, you can set it to clear all cookies when the browser is closed. You can also manually delete all the cookies on this browser. Since you only use this browser for general web surfing, you do not need to retain the cookies.

See the following guide on how to delete cookies. There are instructions there for multiple browsers.

By following these steps, you go some way to both securing your account and browsing the web privately without any information being leaked. If you have any other tips, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Disclaimer: The tips in this post in now way guarantee the security of your information or that your data will never be leak or be compromised. A lot depends on you, the user, remaining vigilant.

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