Happy New Year! Now Update Your Facebook Privacy Settings.

Those quizzes you played over the holidays aren’t just there for giggles.

‘Tis the end of a decade and what a journey it’s been, right? Ten years and so many things have changed: Internet Explorer isn’t the top browser, free wifi is just about everywhere (not just at Starbucks), and Mark Zuckerberg is known more for his congressional hearings than for being TIME’s Person of the Year.

Other things change, too, and they matter – especially today, when we all value our data and private information just about as much as our valuables and family members. Guess what? The social apps we all use on the daily value our data even more than we do, and they’re always waiting with open arms to catch you (and your information) unawares.

So, as we get rolling into a brand new year and a new decade, let’s check your private parts, shall we? (Private parts of your social media apps, that is.)

Facebook Privacy Settings

Fortunately it’s fairly easy to make crucial review and updates to your settings in Facebook. For a quick video walkthrough, watch our YouTube video below… otherwise you can follow the screenshots through this article.

  • Go to Facebook.com and click on the question mark at the top right. This should reveal a slew of options: click on Privacy Checkup.
Screenshot of the privacy settings menu from Facebook's top nav bar.
Hidden within the question mark are some important features that relate to how safe you are online and on Facebook.
  • Work your way through the four (4) modules to thoroughly update your settings. You may be surprised at what you find (I was!), so it’s important to take the five minutes necessary to clean things up.
Screenshot of the four privacy setting modules in Facebook
Facebook will guide you through short reviews of visibility, security, searchability, and data sharing.
  • Once you’ve worked through all four modules, you aren’t done! Click on the Settings link at the bottom of the dialog box to get into more crucial options. Start with the Privacy tab in Facebook Settings (see below).
Screenshot of Privacy Settings within the Facebook website.
Under the Facebook hood are even more settings that you’ll want to review and update. They relate to Stories, tagging, and even face recognition!

It’ll only take you a few minutes to glance at each setting, from Privacy all the way through Face Recognition (gasp – what?), but it’s truly worth your time. Better to be rigorous for less than 10 minutes than to spend months fixing the loss of your private data!

Have a quarter.

We recommend that you check these settings about once every quarter (three months). Why? Because Facebook will change settings for you and/or you may accept changes that you forget about.

For instance, every time you change the visibility setting on your Facebook posts, that settings stays that way for the next post unless you change it back. By setting one post to Public, every post after that could be Public also… unless you change it back to Friends or something else.

Also, consider this: every so often Facebook will automatically update your feed settings so that any video you pause on will automatically play sound. (Annoying, right? Also embarrassing if you happen to be in a quiet environment.) If it makes changes for you on the feed, you can safely assume it could make changes to your settings without you realizing it.

Better to be safe than waaaaaay sorry.

What are your tips and tricks for protecting your Facebook privacy and data?

How to Use Facebook’s Messenger Kids

Do you talk to kids? Whether you’re a parent of a kid, or you just know kids in your life and want to stay connected, there’s a relatively new way to use our dear friend technology to chat with them.

Commence with the wringing of parental hands.

Click here to jump down to a resource link for how parents can protect kids online.

Big Bang theory breathing into bag
Being a parent is hard.

A Parental Preamble (or just skip to the how-to part)

As a mom, and especially one who uses technology on an almost minute-by-minute basis for work and play, I want my kids to appreciate its power as well as its pitfalls. My kids don’t have their own smartphones yet, but they do have their own laptops. They have their own email addresses, which I monitor closely. We allow them to watch YouTube videos, but we often will play them during common family times so we can ensure the content isn’t too mature for their increasingly aware minds.

My intent as a parent is to balance my support of the kids’ use of technology with a healthy dose of trembling awe. So it was with no small amount of hesitation that I finally ushered us into the realm of Messenger Kids by Facebook.

This post will be rife with my own tones of paranoia and hesitation, which I intentionally left in. The gravity of handing over a new part of the internet to our kids is not (in my humble yet strong opinion) meant to be taken lightly.

OK, here we go.

Go to Messenger Kids to create the account(s).

Facebook has (maybe too) conveniently put Messenger Kids in the Explore section on the left sidebar. You can also go to the Messenger Kids dashboard to get started: www.facebook.com/messenger_kids/dashboard/.

Once there, you’ll be asked to create an account for a child by entering their first and last name. Facebook, likely realizing this is a big step for parents who rightly realize the power of their data access and reach is causing anxiety, tells you up front that this action will not create a Facebook profile for the child.

Next is a screen which reassures you of the control you, as the account creator*, will have over the child’s contacts and content. It also tells you what information Facebook will store from use of this app.

*Notice I didn’t use the word “parent” here. There is no part along this process where the account creator is asked to verify if they are a parent, caregiver, or guardian of the child being added to Messenger Kids. There is only a message at the bottom of the image provided where Facebook indicates this should be a parent or guardian completing this process.

The final screen is a prompt for you to download the Messenger Kids app onto a mobile device. The kid being added must use Messenger Kids from a mobile device, which includes a Kindle reader.

Since my kids don’t have smartphones yet, the Kindle reader is their sole option to use Messenger Kids.

Your final step is to add approved contacts to your child’s Messenger Kids account. You will be able to add Family Members, Other Kids, Your Friends, and you can also invite others to use Messenger to connect with your kid(s). Once you add a contact, that person will receive a Facebook message that your kid is now available for chat.

Getting the Kids Started

Now that the kid’s account has been set up by a parent or guardian (hopefully), the app must be set up on the child’s device(s).

You can download the Messenger Kids app for iOS (Apple), Android, or Kindle (Amazon).

Once the app is installed on the mobile device or reader, you (the account creator) have one final step: you must authorize the use of the app by logging in using your Facebook username and password. This lets Facebook know the child hasn’t tried to set up an account without your permission.

Now you’re ready to hand the device to your kid! They’ll be prompted to take a photo of themselves for their profile image. (My child opted for one of her stuffed animals, which in light of the concerns I wallow in was just fine with me.)

Their home screen is a dashboard of contact tiles, each showing if the person is online and available for messages or even video chats. There are also prompts along the top for taking a picture or starting a group chat.

How Do You Message Kids Who Are On Messenger Kids?

(This was the part I couldn’t figure out until we got the kids full set up on their devices, so make sure you finish those steps first.)

If you’re an adult who has either created or been added to the child’s Messenger Kids account as an approved contact, you will be able to use standalone Messenger (the app or the web version) or Facebook chat to message the kid. You will only be able to do this if the account creator has added you as an approved contact; you will not be able to search for the child’s account to start messaging them. (Whew.)

Your chat with anyone using Messenger Kids appears alongside all of your other Messenger chats, so the interaction is fairly seamless.

You will not need to download the Messenger Kids app to chat with the child who has been set up on the service. That app is solely for the child to use to chat with their approved contacts on Messenger.

How to Manage Messenger Kids for Your Kids

If you created accounts for your children, you will always be able to go to the Dashboard to manage their contacts or delete their account if necessary.

Additionally, Messenger Kids will alert you via Messenger every time someone sends a message to your child’s account. This works the same as any other Messenger chat where you can manage your notifications. As a parent who sees each email my children receive, I like this level of oversight.

Other Messenger Kids Features

  • GIFs and frames for photos
  • Ability for your child or the account creator to report a chat
  • Ability for your child to block anyone they don’t want to chat with

More about the app, its capabilities, and any data information around it can be found on the Messenger Kids website: https://messengerkids.com


Also check out The Ultimate Parent Guide for Protecting Your Child on the Internet


Will you set up your child on Messenger Kids… or have you already? Let me know what you think about it!

Oh, the Humanity of Facebook’s New Algorithm!

TL;DR

The new Facebook algorithm will focus on people-to-people, not business-to-people. Like, a LOT of focus.


Welcome back from the rock under whence you came! If you’ve checked your Facebook feed, or really any news related to business, economy, or marketing, there’s a massive buzz around the recent announcement by Mark Zuckerberg that the Facebook algorithm is changing. Nothing new, right?

Wrong. This change falls into the “once more with feeling” genre. Emphasis on the feeling.

What’s about to happen?

Things are about to get way more personal on Facebook. The new formula for your Facebook feed will put you in touch with posts from other personal profiles (your friends, friends of friends, people’s posts you tend to find interesting, etc.).

Additionally, it’s about (yeah, I’m going to use that word) engagement. But not just throwing out a quick reaction so your friend can see that you saw their post even though you made zero time to linger. Facebook wants conversations to happen. You see a post, it spawns a reaction out of you, and you actually type words in a comment on that post to share your more-than-a-GIF-or-emoji response.

Great! So all I need to do is use the word “comment” or “tag” in your post text, right?

Nope. Facebook announced at the end of 2017 that they will absolutely penalize engagement-bait text used to make people do things to your post. This whole “LIKE if you agree, LAUGH if you disagree” tactic is out the window, friends.

Oh, and your Facebook Page posts? As a result of this change, they’re going to get far less play in the timeline. (Page admins should be used to this by now.)

can we panic now?

Should I, in fact, panic?

Noooooo. But you should take this for what it is: a robust scoop of change resting in a bowl of solid intention and topped with a dollop of upheaval.

Here’s what you can do (and probably should have been doing already):

  • Craft YOU-centric posts. I cannot tell you how crushingly tired we all are of posts which lead off with “we” or “I,” especially when they occur on business or organization posts. WHY do you assume everyone else finds your stuff as interesting as you do? Instead, your post should take you out of your own brain and thrust you into the experience of your reader, because that’s what they are interested in the most. If you can grab them in a moment of how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking, your post can make them linger and engage.
  • No more assembly-line posts. You know what you want to share right down to the hyperlink and one or two key calls-to-action (CTAs). But no longer can you just queue those up in a scheduler; going forward you need to flex more empathy and writing muscles to make the link timely and fairly crucial to the reader.
  • Cultivate power users. If your Page or profile has at least a handful of fans who routinely do more than react to your posts, it’s high time you put a ring on it: build a group of advocates. Acknowledge their importance to your content by connecting with them, assembling them into a VIP gathering, and making this relationship meaningful… because these users will get you through this change.
  • Get trained or get a resource. If you don’t know how to do these things effectively, you should either make the time to learn how or take the money to invest in a professional. I’ve got a short-and-sweet list of pros I can refer you to for digital work.

Where did this come from?

Zuck had a rough year.

There was that time when Facebook, along with Twitter and Google, appeared before Congress for grueling testimony about how much responsibility they own for political sway by foreign entities over their users.

There was the ruling by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that political ads on Facebook must show who paid for them that came in the wake of reports that Russian-based advertisers wielded their wiles through the Facebook feed to impact U.S. politics.

Then there was the report that scrolling through their Facebook feed (and social media in general) makes people feel generally crappy afterwards.

All of the billions of dollars or other currency in the world apparently hasn’t been enough salve for these wounds, and Zuck’s response is a more major shift than we’ve seen in the every-other-day changes Facebook routinely rolls out.

Where will this take us?

This is my favorite part. One reason I love social media is its role in shaping humanity and how we communicate (good, bad, or ugly).

I also love watching how the unique platforms change and thereby alter humanity’s course by slow degrees. This latest from Facebook is interesting to me on a few fronts:  Zuck’s willingness to take a fairly massive gamble for this change; the political ramifications at a point in our history when a mistake could lead to nuclear war; watching how we humans (mis)handle the communication tools held in our hands throughout the day.

As far as this specific Facebook adjustment, look for more on how we as personal and professional communicators might shift our approaches on an app we use to the point of addiction.

What do you think will need to change as a result of Facebook’s new algorithm?