Advanced Facebook privacy and security tips

Advanced Facebook privacy and security tips by Matt Hanson, Nate Drake. Available from <> [Nov 30, 2016, 05.25 PM IST] 

Facebook mines your personal data. Huge amounts of it. This is easy to do as people are now spending an average of an hour on day on the site sharing personal photos, having private conversations and playing popular games such as Candy Crush Saga.

However, Facebook contains powerful tools to prevent your data being mined by third parties or from unauthorised people seeing your photos and private messages, however most people do not make use of the built-in privacy tools.

We will show you how to secure your Facebook account as well as some best practices to prevent any breach of your privacy.

When you log in to your Facebook account from a shared or public PC, don’t tick ‘Keep me logged in’.

You’re also asked if you want to save the browser – click ‘Yes’ if you use the PC often, or ‘No’ if not – so you’re alerted if someone uses the PC to log into your account.

Facebook has made a number of recent changes to make its privacy settings easy to access. To view them, click the padlock on the top-right and a drop-down list of the most popular privacy settings is displayed.

You can also click ‘See More Settings’ for more privacy tools.

Go to Settings > Privacy on the desktop version of Facebook or choose “Privacy Shortcuts” from your mobile Facebook app.

Under “Who can see my stuff” you can change the audience for future posts e.g Friends Only. You can also limit the visibility of past posts to make sure only your confirmed friends can see them.

Under “Who can look me up?” change the settings for your e-mail and address and phone number to “Friends” to make sure only people you know can find your Facebook account by searching your e-mail address or phone number.

Finally choose “No” for the search engines option.

Now it’s time to check how much information you’re sharing – and with whom. Click the down arrow next to ‘Who can see my stuff ?’ and where it says ‘What do other people see on my Timeline?’ click ‘View As’.

Initially you’ll see what your profile looks like to people you don’t know. Scroll through your timeline and hide life events/photos if necessary by clicking on the edit tab at the top right.

By default information like your friends list is publicly available. On the desktop version of your website, go to your profile and click the edit tab at the top right to change privacy settings.

Change your friends list visibility to “Only Me” or “Friends only”. Do the same for other information like books, movies and so on.

Following on from the previous step, click “Edit” next to the “Who can add things to my Timeline?” to review what friends post on your timeline before it appears.

In the “Who can see things on my Timeline?” section you can control who sees posts you’ve been tagged in on your timeline. By default this is “Friends of Friends” but you can change this to “Friends Only”.

Finally in “How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions?” change the first setting to “On” to approve tags made by others to posts on your own timeline.

You don’t want strangers seeing all of your information. From the privacy menu, expand ‘Who can contact me?’ then under ‘Who can send me friend requests?’ you can choose only ‘Friends of Friends’ – people your friends know – to be able to send you a friend request.

From the privacy menu click ‘More Settings’, and next to where it says ‘Who can look you up using the email address you provided’ and ‘Who can look you up using the phone number you provided’ click ‘Edit’ and select ‘Friends’ or ‘Friends of Friends’ for both.

These settings won’t do much if people can type your name into Google and find your profile. From the same screen in step 7, where it says ‘Do you want other search engines to link to your Timeline’, click ‘Edit’ and uncheck ‘Let other search engines link to your Timeline’.

Facebook allows you to block other users as well as messages. People who are blocked cannot interact with you in any way, they will not see your timeline, cannot invite you to events, or message you.

Be warned this will not block them interacting with you if you both have the same game installed e.g Farmville.

The easiest way to block someone is to visit their profile, click the … button and choose “Block”. You can review who you have blocked and unblock them if you want by going to Settings > Blocking. If you unblock someone you cannot re-block them for 48 hours.

When on Facebook, look at the address bar of your web browser. If it says ‘https://’ you’re secure, but if it says ‘http://’, go to the ‘More Settings’ screen, click ‘Security’ on the left and next to ‘Secure browsing’ click ‘Edit’, then check the box to enable secure browsing.

Go to Account Settings > Security on either the mobile or desktop version of Facebook. Click “Login Alerts” and tick to choose whether to receive a Facebook notification or e-mail to your registered address. You will now receive an alert whenever someone logs into your account from a new location.

You can increase your security even further by also enabling “Login Approvals”. All first time logins from new locations or devices will now need to be confirmed with a code from your mobile version of Facebook or via SMS. Click “Code Generator” from within the mobile app for new codes.

You can get Facebook to send a login approval to your phone. When you approve it, you can use Facebook.

This can help prevent people using your Facebook account. Enable this by clicking ‘Edit’ next to ‘Use your phone as an extra layer of security’ in the Settings page.

If you’re worried you’re logged in somewhere you don’t want to be, such as a public PC, or are concerned someone else is logging in as you, click ‘Edit’ next to ‘Where you’re logged in’.

You’ll see where you’re logged in, and you can remotely log out by clicking ‘End activity’.

Lots of websites and apps let you sign up using your Facebook account. This often means the makers of these apps have access to your friends’ details, your details and can post things on Facebook as you, unless you don’t let them.

Always check what access they want.

If you play games like Farmville or Candy Crush Saga on the desktop version of Facebook, choose Settings > Apps.

Click the edit button next to each app to see what information you provide. Uncheck the blue tick next to each piece of information to remove it e.g your e-mail address.

Try to avoid adding friends on Facebook just for the sake of playing games with them. Although it’s technically a breach of Facebook Terms and Conditions, some users have a separate account just for playing games, so no personal information is shared with their real account.

There’s a number of scams on Facebook. A popular one presents itself as a shocking video that one of your friends has posted about.

Clicking the video allows the makers to post the ‘video’ on your behalf without your permission, compromising your account’s security.

If your account is ever hacked and the password changed, you can regain access by setting up 3-5 trusted contacts. These are people on your Facebook friends list who will each receive a security code. You can enter these codes to regain access to your account.

To set up Trusted Contacts on Facebook mobile go to Privacy Shortcuts > More Settings > Security < Trusted Contacts. On the desktop version choose Settings > Security > Your Trusted Contacts > Edit > Choose Trusted Contacts.

Enter the names of your trusted friends. They will receive a notification stating that you have added them as a Trusted Contact.

You may want to share some content with Facebook friends and not with others e.g your colleagues. To change what individual friends can see click the “Friends” icon on Facebook Mobile, or the “Friends” icon on the “Friends” tab on Facebook desktop, then “Add to Another List”.

Acquaintances by default can see everything you post but moving forward you can change the visibility for individual posts to “Friends except Acquaintances.” The “Restricted” setting is also extremely useful. Anyone in our “Restricted” list will remain Facebook friends with you but will only see posts you choose to make public.

Choose “New List” for specific groups e.g your swim team.

By default new posts on Facebook Mobile, your current location will be displayed. Disable this by clicking Privacy Shortcuts > More Settings > Location > Turn off Location Settings.

Mobile devices can usually also disable Location Services for the Facebook app from within the device settings, check with your manufacturer for more information.

If you don’t want anyone to know where you are including Facebook, consider using Facebook’s anonymous address. To use this you will need a tor-enabled browser.

Android users can use OrFox while desktop users can use the Tor Browser Bundle.

Now you’ve followed these steps, you can breathe a sigh of relief – your Facebook account is as secure as possible.

Make sure you pay attention to any notices telling you someone has logged in to your account – if you don’t recognise the device, change your password!

Advanced Facebook privacy and security tips by Matt Hanson, Nate Drake. Available from <> [Nov 30, 2016, 05.25 PM IST] 

The Importance of Placing Instagram in Your Digital Marketing Strategy

The Importance of Placing Instagram in Your Digital Marketing Strategy by Diogo Costa.  Available from <> [November 20, 2016; 12:45 pm]

Since 2010, Instagram has done nothing but grow. Today, there are more than five hundred million users in this social network, which focuses primarily on images and can be accessed from mobile devices and computers alike. But Instagram is actually much more than just a collection of beautifully taken photos – it can be essential to a digital marketing strategy.

Insightful entrepreneurs have already realized the power and the impact that this social network can have on their sales and exposure. Instagram is no longer just a place to follow your friends, as users also follow brands, companies, bloggers, institutions, and magazines, among others. Thus, Instagram has become an excellent platform to promote products and services.

Instagram Tips

There are several tips that will help you take advantage of Instagram in your digital marketing strategy. The first is that, if you lack the time to take care of this, do not skip it – Instagram can be quite important these days so, if you or your company cannot deal with it, leave it in the hands of someone who has experience in the field.

Vibbi is a company specialized and focused in Instagram-related marketing and strategies, offering many services and tools to improve that part of your business. Their service is established in three main basis: promoting your brand, backing up your content, and keeping you up with Instagram’s latest news and trends. Vibbi is then a safe bet to help with your Instagram strategy, if you cannot handle it.

New Content Is a Necessity

Other than this service, there are additional tips that anyone can apply. It is important to publish new content regularly, but without “over-posting.” The quality of the photos is important, just like it’s important to diversify the content and be creative. Publishing your products is key, but keep some variation by publishing about other subjects related to your business field, for example.

Another important aspect is to get as close as possible from the public target and followers. Hashtags are quite important for this, as they help you find users interested in your field, which can be used to create your following. After this, you should keep followers engaged, and a good move for this is to inspire them. For example, if your field is fitness, then photos of athletes in action are a great option.

Engage Your Followers

Communication with your followers is also essential, so leave comments on their photos, reply to their questions and doubts, and be sure to mark partners, such as suppliers, clients, and collaborators on your photos. Last but not least, sales and discounts are also quite popular with clients, so do not keep those on a drawer.

Social networks are extremely useful for companies to build an intimate relationship with their customers and want to show a more human side to the general public. Instagram is the prime example of that. Whether using the services of a specialized company or doing it yourself, Instagram can be essential for your digital marketing strategy, so really do not skip the opportunity.

The Importance of Placing Instagram in Your Digital Marketing Strategy by Diogo Costa.  Available from <> [November 20, 2016; 12:45 pm]

4 Tips For Preparing for SEO in 2017

4 Tips For Preparing for SEO in 2017 by Jason Parks.  Available from <> [11/21/2016 10:32 am ET]

If the casual hockey fan’s favorite team had the worst record in the league, they’d assume the future was bleak. Analysts, scouts and diehard fans who know the behind-the-scenes activities of the organization would understand that the opposite was true: It means their hometown team had been drafting outstanding talent that had been developing at rapid pace in the minor leagues. Additionally, their team was bound to hold a top three pick in the draft, which would be stockpiled with the talent needed to fill missing holes on their roster.

The future of SEO and PR is similar to the bottom dweller in hockey. There were droves of people saying PR and SEO was “dead” in 2011. As we approach 2017, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Start Drafting Wisely

If you own a business or work in marketing, you need to start planning for the future and investing in digital PR to beat out the competition. You can either hire talent for your own team, or find a reputable marketing agency to assist or consult in this effort. My team has combined digital PR and social media campaigns for Fortune 500 brands that made a major impact on their bottom line.

If you draft your team wisely, your business can catapult from the third or fourth page of Google onto page one. A “digital unicorn,” someone who has PR expertise and a firm grasp on digital marketing, will get your business referenced on external sites through PR connections, outreach and great content creation, which is valuable from an SEO perspective. This person should also know how to create videos and perfect them in Final Cut, edit with Photoshop and code HTML.

It’s important that the person you are looking to hire has achieved past success when it comes to their own digital PR. Have they been published online on a well-known site? Have they had a social media campaign go viral? Whether they achieved success for themselves or the company they previously worked for, make sure this candidate has real life examples to prove that they will be a valuable asset for your business.

Work Around Google’s Core Algorithm

If you follow or work in the SEO or digital marketing industry, you are aware that Google values quality content. Gone are the days where you can manipulate Google’s search engine with low-quality content. You need to constantly be increasing your domain authority.

To do so, start to build trust in your brand. If you are a dermatologist and write content on a health and beauty site about “best facial cleansers,” this is a strength indicator in Google’s eyes, especially if the site links back to you. If you post unforgettable social media content about skincare tips, this will likely result in other people interacting with your brand and visiting your site. Ultimately, the more people talk about your brand, the higher likelihood you will have to acquire powerful backlinks. Try posting video content or plan a half-day photoshoot to truly make your content stand out.

Try Implementing SEO and PR Services

  • Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is one of the greatest tools for PR and SEO any business owner or digital marketer can make use of. It’s free and generates amazing exposure. HARO provides journalists with a robust database of sources for upcoming stories and daily opportunities for sources to secure valuable media coverage. Sign up and use this resource as much as you can to build credibility and establish media relationships for your site. When I started an e-commerce company with my sister, we utilized HARO and we were quoted in well-known publications such as Glamour, Condé Nast and NBC’s Today Show.
  • PitchBox automates the outreach grunt work to help scale your efforts. It handles all aspects, from the prospecting to the emailing, to tracking and managing the workflow. If you are an industry expert looking to contribute content on external sites, PitchBox can help find these sites through its automated software. For startups, it starts at $95 and is a great resource to generate high-quality relationships.
  • If you want to measure success of your SEO and digital PR efforts, invest in Moz. This SEO software will track your keyword rankings and inform you when a backlink hits the web (such as a HARO pitch that went live on an external site). It also allows you to track competitor keyword rankings, optimize your local listings and enhance your local presence (if you have a storefront location, for instance).

Develop a Game Plan in Your Area

Too often, when it comes to SEO and digital marketing, people just sit behind a computer. Change up the pace and do a public speaking engagement for free. I recently did a speaking engagement for a real estate company in Columbus, my hometown. I was able to grow my Instagram follower count by 20 percent by incorporating an Instagram giveaway during the presentation. I made great local connections by staying afterward and speaking with the audience. If there is a powerful influencer on Instagram in your industry nearby, offer to meet him or her for coffee. You never know the ideas they’ll present or the people you’ll be introduced to.

If you invest in digital PR and utilize the aforementioned services, you will score a hat trick when it comes to your SEO efforts. Just remember, it can take time to put together the right team and execute on the game plan.

4 Tips For Preparing for SEO in 2017 by Jason Parks.  Available from <> [11/21/2016 10:32 am ET]

Holiday Shopping Survival Guide: 10 Tips to Keep Your Website Up and Running

Holiday Shopping Survival Guide: 10 Tips to Keep Your Website Up and Running by  Rob Marvin.  Available from < [

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the Super Bowl for e-commerceOpens a New Window.. The holiday season kicks into gear for businesses with the biggest online shopping days of the year during Cyber Week. The window from Black Friday to Christmas can make or break the sales and revenue for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) all the way up to large businesses such as Nordstrom and Target. For every business, though, success or failureOpens a New Window. comes down to how well your website holds up to the influx of holiday user traffic.

When customers are entering and browsing your website, adding products to their cart, and checking out, every second counts. Digital performance management company SOASTAOpens a New Window.said the sweet spot—the website load time that corresponds to peak conversions—could be two seconds or less in 2016. Between Cyber Week 2014 and 2015, SOASTA analyzed 1.5 billion beacons worth of user session data. SOASTA found that peak conversion load time shrank from 3.8 to 2.4 seconds, and also found that, in 2015, slower pages experienced up to a 58 percent increase in bounce rate. The numbers go on and on, but the correlation is simple: website problems in those key moments equal lost revenue.

To make sure their website is prepared, businesses need to do the legwork before and during the rush. I spoke to Gus Robertson, CEO of application delivery and scalable web infrastructure provider NGINXOpens a New Window. (pronounced “engine-x”) about how businesses should prepare. We discussed the mechanisms that should be in place to prime for the best and plan for the worst during Cyber Week.

NGINX and its open-source softwareOpens a New Window. have been around since the early days of the internet. According to the company, NGINX software powers more than 55 percent of the internet in one form or another. Robertson said he’s seen the internet evolve from simple webpages into complex, web-based applications that deliver user experiences (UXes) to a wide range of devices and screen sizes. At the same time, more and more retail revenue every year comes from the web.

“We’re seeing this transition where e-commerce transactions are becoming equally [as], if not more, important than brick-and-mortar sales in physical stores,” said Robertson. “When your website goes down, you shut down a large chunk of your business opportunity. Don’t let your best and busiest day become your worst day. There are very basic things you can do to make sure you’re as well-protected and prepared as possible.”

Robertson laid out 10 tips to help your business test its website and make a game plan for the rush. This way, you’ll be prepared and know how to respond if something on your website goes wrong at the worst time on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

1. Monitor Your Website
Robertson said it’s a no-brainer for businesses to have a website monitoringor application performance managementOpens a New Window. (APM) solution in place. These kinds of tools give you complete visibility into not only the front end of your website, but a holistic look at the entire web application and compute resources.

“We’re dealing with very different application architectures than we were a couple years ago. When something goes wrong, you need to look not just at the infrastructure itself and things like response time, but the cause,” said Robertson. “Customers of ours use tools like New RelicOpens a New Window., AppDynamicsOpens a New Window., and DatadogOpens a New Window. to find out not just what’s faulting or not performing on the back end, but the UX on the front end. Several seconds of delay could mean a user goes to your competitor’s site and buys the product there instead.”

2. Preemptive Load Testing
Load testing means putting demand on a website by using simulated traffic to see how many concurrent users it can handle. Robertson stressed that load testing should be done early and often, not just on normal traffic but by pushing the website to its limits to handle peak traffic levels.

“You need to load test at normal traffic—what you expect it to be—and then [on] the maximum traffic you could ever potentially expect,” said Robertson. “You need to see how that load testing impacts performance, but also the back-end resiliency of your site as that traffic comes in.”

3. Performance Testing
As you load test, Robertson said it’s also important to think about the UX. Load and performance testing go hand in hand because your website need to be able to not only handle many users without crashing, but then it needs to deliver fast-loading pages and a responsive interface to keep those customers happy and engaged in the shopping experience.

“You want to deliver the best user experience you can for the customer that’s trying to interact with your site and have a relationship with your company,” said Robertson. “A high-performance web application should be getting the customer to the right information through the site without a lot of hassle. That’s what the customer experience is about.”

4. Test Critical User Workflows
Part of that performance testing is going beyond load times to actually test the user flows that will receive the most metaphorical foot traffic on your website. Robertson said testing things such as the hottest product pages, shopping cart management, and, most importantly, the seamlessness of the checkout process is a key step in successfully driving online sales.

“Businesses are load testing the front of the site but not necessarily the back-end [application programming interface or] API that connects you to the payment gateway,” said Robertson. “You have X amount of people in the front of the application but that doesn’t tell you if it will work the whole way through. If people are trying to check out from their shopping cart and they can’t, you’re done. You’ve lost that conversion.”

5. Put Scaling Tools in Place
Regardless of how you’ve architected your web application underneath (we’ll get to that later), NGINX has made its name on being able to quickly scale and allocate web resources where they’re needed. Robertson discussed a variety of tools you can put into place on your website to give you some flexibility when high traffic comes in.

“We like to think of NGINX as the shock absorber at the front end of an application,” said Robertson. “We do the HTTP heavy lifting. There are all these tools you can put in the front of the app like load balancers, caching mechanisms, or a [content delivery network or] CDN that can help you auto-scale and prioritize certain traffic. So, if users are coming back into a workflow and you have to trade off one traffic source versus another, you could prioritize something like shopping cart checkout to maximize conversions over the resources that are going toward powering the product search bar.”

6. Set Up Traffic Cops
Scaling tools such as load balancers and CDNs are one element of NGINX’s “shock absorption,” but the company also sets up what it calls “traffic cops” for websites. These traffic cops stop security breaches and faux pas such as Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks. Robertson said “edge services” such as CDNs, DDoS mitigation services, and firewalls can help divert malicious traffic to let the real user traffic through to your website.

“DDoS [attacks] can happen from external bad agents that can take your site down, but you can also accidentally DDoS yourself by having one server pinging another and taking it down,” explained Robertson. “Traffic cops mean setting up things like weight limits, pre-set IP addresses, blocking and whitelisting external applications. [There are] a number of mechanisms NGINX can put in place to ensure that service isn’t interrupted and you don’t allow one to DDoS another. Then, on the front end, you have a [web application firewall or] WAF looking for things like external DDoS and SQL injection attacks.”

7. Make a Failure Plan
No business wants to see their website go down during Cyber Week but it happens every year, even to high-profile retailers. Because of this, every business needs to plan for the worst. Robertson said that starts with having a Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) solution in place to have a backup website tested and ready to go if your main website goes down.

“Make sure your DR site is sitting there as an insurance plan, but also be sure to activate and test it beforehand,” said Robertson. “When you’re load testing the main site, do the same to your DR site so that, if something does go wrong, you can move the site quickly to that infrastructure.

8. Social Damage Control
The other half of your backup plan is to know your customer service and outreach strategy and, in 2016, that means social media managementOpens a New Window.. Social media is the front line for customer interaction with your brand. If your website goes down, then the first places customers will look for answers are your company’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

“If things do go wrong, think about how you would respond on social media and how your representatives would go about informing customers and keeping them up to date,” said Robertson.

9. Consider Website Architecture
One of the longer-term conversations your business should be discussing when it comes to your website is about how it’s architected and whether it’s time for a change. We’ve written about how applications of all kinds are moving away from monolithic architectures and toward more modular microservicesOpens a New Window.. Robertson said that, ultimately, the front-end tools NGINX provides are no substitute for a dynamically scaling, microservices-based web app.

“Microservices is the way we’re seeing large web properties getting the ability to really scale,” said Robertson. “If you’ve written a monolith, you can’t rearchitect between now and the holiday shopping rush. But you should be looking at your architecture and thinking about how you can eventually transition. The benefit of a microservice is that you can auto-scale individual components as traffic is hitting them. So, if the image library is getting hit, you scale that or any other service in the app. It’s this application architecture valve to adjust for inbound traffic that, around this time of year, can be excessive.”

10. C-Suite Buy-In
When a website goes down on Black Friday, the fallout from that doesn’t just impact the IT team that’s running the website. The CEO or CTO of the company then has to answer to shareholders or to a board of directors about why the website went down and how much potential revenue was lost. Business and technology issues are inextricably linked for online businesses, and Robertson said management and other executives need to know and understand them.

“If you’re a CEO and 20 percent of your business is coming from the website, asking the same questions of your CIO is as important as the CIO asking them to their team,” said Robertson. “This is high-level, but it’s important for executives to know enough about the technology in their company and on their sites to ask the right questions and have a good answer for the shareholders if they’re unfortunate enough to need one.”

This article originally appearedOpens a New Window. on PCMag.comOpens a New Window..

Holiday Shopping Survival Guide: 10 Tips to Keep Your Website Up and Running by  Rob Marvin.  Available from < [

Tips to Stay Safe while Online Shopping

Tips to Stay Safe while Online Shopping by  Andrea Henderson, Multimedia Video Journalist.  Available from <> [Posted: Nov 15, 2016 7:27 AM]

Holiday shopping is already on the minds of many people. Some will be hitting the stores to cross things off their shopping lists. Others prefer to find the seasonal bargains from the comfort of their homes.

Americans on average are expected to spend about 908 dollars this season, an 8 percent increase from last year. The national retail federation shows 57 percent of consumers plan to buy gifts online this holiday season. The scary thing though — Americans lost over 800 million dollars to cyber theft in 2014 alone.

“When you’re doing online shopping, a couple things you need to watch out for, make sure you’re on a secure site, that you know the site that you’re on. You need to check that you’re on a site that has ‘HTTPS” in the address bar, and also there should be a little lock in that address bar too,” Cheryl Parson, President at the Better Business Bureau of West Central Ohio, said.

To protect yourself from online fraud, Parson says there are some additional things you can do: make sure to Use a credit card, track your online transactions for any red flags, and double check the web address to make sure it’s not trying to imitate a popular site like Amazon.

“There’s another out there that is not really Amazon, but it looks like it. People are using sites that you think you are on the right site, the name’s similar and everything, but it’s not the correct site,” Parson said.

If you realize you’ve been a victim of online fraud, contact your credit card company right away, and you can also report it to the Better Business Bureau for additional help.

Tips to Stay Safe while Online Shopping by  Andrea Henderson, Multimedia Video Journalist.  Available from <> [Posted: Nov 15, 2016 7:27 AM]