Facebook Security Settings for Lawyers (and Their Families)

Published in 2011
by Christopher B. Hopkins

At a recent bar seminar on Facebook marketing, the principle questions asked by lawyers were not about what to say – but how to secure their accounts. Without question, before you can promote yourself online, you need to protect your voice. Since many of us are parents as well as lawyers, it may be worthwhile to sit down, laptop to laptop, and compare Facebook settings with your family members to ensure that everyone from the firm to the family is protected. The steps below give you a hands-on opportunity to have a parent-child discussion about internet safety. Why would you pass that up?

We previously covered Facebook security settings in this column one year ago and, since then, Facebook has revamped its security methods twice (April 2010 and August 2011). The following ten steps will ensure proper security, custom-tailored to you and your family members. To begin, log into Facebook, hit the “Account” tab in the upper right corner. It will drop down a short list. In step 1, we will use “Account Settings.” For steps 2-9, you will need to begin each step at the “Privacy Settings” page under the Account tab.

1. Don’t Use Me in Your Ads: Prevent Facebook and its partners from using your likeness. Under the Account tab, go to Account Settings. On the far left, there should be a list of options where you select “Facebook Ads.” In the center of the screen, it will give you two options to edit Third Party Ad Settings and Social Settings. Follow both links, setting them to “no one.” Facebook will pop up a few screens begging you not to turn this off but hold steady.
2. No Facial Recognition: Facebook has the ability to screen photos uploaded by users and identify if it is you. Convenient for other people… but the answer is no. On the Privacy Settings screen, select “Customize Settings” and find “Suggest Photos of Me to Friends.” Select “disabled.”
3. Who Can See Me? Under Account/Privacy Settings, select “Connecting on Facebook” at the top. For lawyers, consider setting each to “Everyone” accept Search for You, Friends List, and Activities which you will set to “Friends.” For teenagers, consider “Friends” or “Friends of Friends” for most settings.
4. Tagging in Photos: back on the Privacy Settings page, uncheck the box in the center of the screen which would otherwise allow non-Friends to tag (identify or link) you in photos floating around Facebook.
5. Existing Photos/Video on Facebook: Continuing from Step 4, on the Privacy Settings page, hit “Customize Settings.” In the middle of that page, select, “Edit Privacy Settings for Existing Photo and Video.” With the exception of your profile picture, lawyers should lock everything down to Friends. For teenagers, consider limiting the visibility of the Profile Picture to Friends of Friends.
6. Things I Share: In the middle of the privacy page, hit “Customize Settings.” This is the heart of Facebook security. For “Things I Share,” lawyers should limit each setting to Friends except Bio and Website (which will be work-related); teenagers should limit each to Friends.
7. Things Others Share: On the same Facebook page from step 4, consider whether you want people to publicly comment on your wall (I enabled it; if a problem post arises, you can delete it). Photos and Videos, Permission to Comment, and Friends Can See Wall Posts should be set to Friends. As mentioned in Step 2, disable Suggest Photos of Me.
8. Facebook Places: Rumored to be discontinued this Fall, Places allows you to “check in” at various places in real life. But Facebook also lets other people identify you as being somewhere as well as lets the public see you. In short, it might be great for me to visibly “check in” and let everyone know that I am at the Palm Beach County Courthouse but I do not want some mischievous friend to be able to check me in at the local exotic dance club. Keep the control to yourself. Starting at the same page from Step 4, uncheck “Include Me in People Here Now” and disable “Friends Can Check Me Into Places.”
9. Third Party Apps – Worst Offenders: Unless you already fiercely guard your settings, this step may shock you in terms of your poor Facebook security regimen. On the Privacy Settings page, select Apps and Websites on the bottom left. If you are a frequent Facebook user, you might find six or more Apps You Use. Edit the settings and delete/discontinue what you do not need. Meanwhile, do not let your friends’ apps share info either: Info Accessible Through Friends should be bio/website only (or whatever you choose for Step 5). Skip Games and Apps until Step 10. We disabled Instant Personalization in Step 2, above. Public search should be comparable, if not tighter, than your settings from Step 5.
10. Keep Your Gaming Habits Quiet: Too many Facebook users allow apps to publicize the groeth of vegetables or mafia hits. Do not publicize your gaming nor pester your friends. On the Privacy Settings page, again select Apps and Websites. Disable Game and App Activity.

Want to learn more? Facebook provides the “Control How Your Share” option on the Privacy Page which offers various suggestions and updates. A good test of your final settings is to go onto a computer you do not use (or via the incognito setting on your browser) and search your name on Facebook to view your profile. Or ask a friend to pull up your profile. If you missed the recent Palm Beach County Bar Association seminar on Facebook Marketing, you can see these steps and other information in action via Powerpoint at XXXXXXXXXXX.

Christopher B. Hopkins might be able to subtly ignore your Facebook friend request but he cannot resist emails from lawyers (and their family members) at Christopher.hopkins@akerman.com