5 Facebook Profile Account Security Precautions

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Facebook may have a very large and growing staff, but it can be hard to keep up with the 1 Billion+ users, including countless bogus profiles. A couple months ago I reported a fake account using my pictures under a fake name (which has happened several times over the years... unfortunately a somewhat common occurrence for social media influencers) that was actually harassing some of my real life contacts. Somehow Facebook got confused on which account was the original one (despite my 9,000+ friends and followers and 11 years of account use), or the impersonating account turned the tables on me. They may have gotten notified that they were reported as using a fake name and then quickly reported my profile immediately after. Or it could have been a sabotage attempt from a competitor or someone over the years that just hasn't been my biggest fan. Unfortunately it happens. 


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Anyways, my account became disabled while their was untouched. When this happens you have almost no recourse and no contact options with Facebook. You get the chance of submitting an appeal via stating a summary of the issue and attaching government-issued identification documents...and then waiting. No confirmation of receipt, no feedback. After days of appeals and sending Facebook every personal and government-issued ID possible, they finally realized their error and unlocked my account this after 3 days. They also deleted the impersonating account and sent a very brief apology note. I then proceeded to report and get removed 2 other fake impersonating accounts. This time it went very smoothly. It was very frustrating after using my Facebook profile since 2005, creating countless groups and pages, and spending thousands of dollars on various business advertising campaigns. Everything has been smooth sailing since but I came away from this experience with a few main tips to better secure your account.


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Some of these suggestions sound counter-intuitive to securing your identity online, but if you don't follow these guidelines (included in Facebook's Terms, Conditions, & Policies) it could end up backfiring. You'll have no way to reinstate your account and you can have fun starting a new account from scratch. Don't count on Facebook's nonexistent customer service department to help you out.

1) Use Your Real Date of Birth 

No this is not for all of those Facebook Birthday Notifications and all those great profile posts you get. This is because you need your DOB to match your government issued ID's or they may not recognize your account as being legitimate. Yes you should use your real DOB, but I'd recommend setting it to be visible "Only To You" and require your profile login the require 2-Step Verification. 

2) Use Your Full Legal Name

If you use nicknames or middle names instead of last names then it could come back to haunt you. Check the Facebook Terms, Conditions, & Policies. You technically need to use your full, real, legal name. Even if you go by a different name, abbreviation, or nickname. I'm sure you could get away with Mike vs Michael or Chris vs Christopher, or using a maiden name, but after this debacle I don't know if I'd want to chance it. I know this isn't ideal for some users but you don't want to risk getting locked out of your account.

3) Require 2-Step Verification For Profile Logins

For this to work you'll need your mobile phone with you to log in to new browsers (you can save them for your regular computer use). I also do this for Twitter, Linkedin, Gmail, Google Plus, and YouTube. It is not available for Pinterest or Instagram (Update February 2016: This security feature is now finally available for Instagram and I use it). Constant Contact and Mailchimp may also have this feature as well. I have this tied to my secure mobile phone (which you will need to login on a new device, browser, or location). It may seem a little extreme but not when you have credit cards, personal data, documents, and business networks. Identity fraud and cyber crime is always growing.  


4) Use At Least A Few Real Pictures Of You

If you don't have any pictures of you to match with search engines or government issued ID's then it could be possible to run into a problem. To be on the safe side I'd include at least a few legitimate pictures of you. This isn't hard for most people that have dozens or hundreds but I do know many people that will use 0-1 actual images of themselves.



5) Keep Your Eyes Open For Strange Activity

You never know what's out there potentially causing damage to the reputation of you or your company. Be aware of your recent login devices, dates, locations, and browsers. Check what search results you get when you enter your name or pictures. Look for irregular activity on your profile or pages.


I hope this advice can help you to prevent or solve any unnecessary Facebook profile issues.



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Michael J. Schiemer of Schiemer Consulting
Enthusiastic Entrepreneur & Owner of Frugal Business 
Digital Marketing, Social Media, & Entrepreneurship on a Budget
HubSpot Inbound Certified Marketer
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