If you use Facebook regularly, you probably know about some of the many different settings and features built in to the service. But because there are so many different settings, you may not know about some of the interesting and important ways you can maintain your account.
Facebook itself has a page dedicated to going over the basics when it comes to your account settings. But if you already know most of the basics and just want to go a little deeper into some of the settings that are especially important at the moment, here are just some of the features and settings you can use now.
When you’re using the Facebook app, you can choose whether the app has access to your location. You can also choose whether it keeps track of where you’ve been in the past.
In the Facebook app, simply go to your Account settings, then choose Location. Here you can decide whether Facebook is able to see your location by turning Location Services off or on. You can also disable or enable Location History, where Facebook stores information on past locations and uses the information for a number of things (including deciding which ads to show you).
Allowing certain kinds of targeted ads
Personalized ads are huge on Facebook. You can choose what kinds of ads are allowed when you’re logged in.
In your Facebook settings, click on the Ads category. There are a number of different things you can do here, including deciding which targeted ads are allowed. There are three kinds of ads you can choose to allow or block. One of them includes whether or not to let other people see whether you liked something once it shows up as an ad for them.
Hiding certain topics and removing interests
Some ads are targeted based on interests Facebook believes you have. In your Facebook settings, click on the Ads category. Here you can see your interests. You can click through the categories (like “News and entertainment” or “People”) and choose to remove certain interests that you don’t want ad choices to be based on.
You can also hide certain kinds of ads in the Hide ad topics section. You can choose to hide ads based on specific things, like alcohol, and you can even suggest other topics you’d like to hide.
Viewing information used for ads
Based on your Facebook usage, the service places you in certain categories and builds up certain information about you. You can see this information in your Settings by going to the Ads section. Clicking on the “Your information” section shows you some of what Facebook is basing their ads on. “Your categories” shows things like what kind of device you use and, perhaps most interestingly, what political category the site places you in. Clicking the ‘X’ next to a piece of information will remove it from your information.
Photo tagging based on facial recognition
When others are posting photos, Facebook can recognize your face and let people tag you—but only if you let it.
After going to your Facebook settings, simply choose the Face Recognition section. Then you can decide whether you want facial recognition enabled. When it’s on, other people can upload a photo and get a suggestion from Facebook to tag you in the photo.
Letting your friends unlock your account
If you have 3 to 5 Facebook friends you trust enough, you can set up a way to get back into your account if you’re ever locked out. In your Facebook settings, you can go to the Security and Login section to choose a handful of friends (at least 3) who can help you recover your account if needed. If you’re ever locked out of Facebook, the friends you choose can then send you a link that lets you log back in.
Using two-step authentication
Two-step authentication is one way to make logging into your account more secure. In the Security and Login section of your Facebook settings, you can turn on two-step authentication. To set it up, you can either choose to have a login code sent to your phone or to have the app work through a security app you already use. Once it’s turned on, every time you want to log in to Facebook, you’ll have to enter your password and the login code sent via text (or through your security app). This makes it more difficult for your account to be compromised.
If you’re unsure what your profile really looks like to the public, you can use the View As feature. You may have noticed this before but never clicked on it. Using View As makes it easier to see whether you’ve accidentally made public posts that give away too much personal information or make you look unprofessional. You can find the View As feature by going to your profile. In the Facebook app, there is an icon underneath your profile photo. On desktop, clicking the button with the three dots next to “View Activity Log” gives you the View As option.
Keep in mind…
These are just a few of the settings and features available on Facebook. For more, look around Facebook’s Help Center.
Facebook is using their updated AR to make movie promotions a little more futuristic. In a recent announcement, they explained their use of augmented reality with posters for the films Ready Player One and A Wrinkle in Time.
According to their detailed post, all of the posters for the recent films work in conjunction with Facebook’s new augmented reality target tracking. They describe being able to simply open the Facebook camera, point your phone at one of the posters, and then see a specifically designed AR experience. The camera will be able to recognize certain images, including, Facebook says, things like logos and pictures.
They’re calling their new target tracking feature “persistent AR,” meaning the augmented reality experience is specifically connected to something in actual reality. They’ve also worked to make the AR particularly stable, designing it to keep working even if the image is blocked from view by the camera briefly—so someone getting in the way while you’re looking at one of the posters wouldn’t interrupt the AR experience. And the augmented reality experience can also be enabled through the use of things like QR codes, not just by pointing Facebook’s camera at the image.
According to Facebook, this new augmented reality feature is in closed beta right now. Ready Player One and A Wrinkle in Time are part of the closed beta. But their plan is to make this AR feature enjoyable and useful for everyone on both ends—companies and viewers alike. They believe companies can gain a lot from this different type of promotion. And the AR experiences will, they say, end up being able to be used by a lot of different phones, not just brand new pricey models. In fact, they say they’ve been focusing on making it workable with “older, lower end phones” so fewer people are left out of the fun.
Facebook says the developer toolkit for this feature will become available “later this spring.”
With all the discussion of Facebook’s recent data scandal, third-party data is a major topic of discussion among social media services. (Find out more about Facebook’s difficulties, referred to as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in my article from last week.) Facebook is bringing a number of changes due to the scandal, most of which will restrict access to users’ data. Meanwhile, another social media giant is in the news for a somewhat puzzling reason, as it may soon be making third party access possible.
Here’s a rundown of just some of Facebook’s updates, as well as Snapchat’s recent news.
Facebook is ending their Partner Categories
Facebook is now ending their Partner Categories. According to TechCrunch, Facebook is going to stop using third-party data in its targeted advertising. With targeted ads, a number of different tools are used. Until now, Facebook had used data collected from third parties as one way to accurately target ads toward users. After the recent data scandal, though, Facebook is ending the practice. According to Entrepreneur, companies like Axciom and Experian were part of Facebook’s Partner Categories. TechCrunch notes that Facebook has said the decision is in place permanently, not just while they try to work their way through their current issues.
Facebook wants your help spotting data mining apps
Facebook is focusing heavily on finding apps that could misuse data gathered from their users. In fact, according to CNET, they will now pay users who find “data mining” apps. Facebook already had a program in place that rewarded people for finding other issues on the site. With this program, people could get paid for reporting apps that are using data in a way that breaks Facebook’s policies. CNET also notes that some “bug bounty programs” can offer rewards of up to $100,000.
Snapchat may let third party apps connect to your account
With the flurry of news around Facebook’s handling of third party data, news has come out that Snapchat may be planning to let third party apps connect to users’ accounts. Mashable has reported that the current beta version of Snapchat has a new feature called “Connected Apps.” Bitmoji and Shazam have already been able to connect to Snapchat accounts. But if this setting in Snapchat’s beta is any indication, more apps will soon be able to connect. Of course, just because it’s in beta doesn’t mean it will actually be released in full. Whatever happens, news of its inclusion in the beta app has come at a strange and unfortunate time.
Quite a bit has happened with Facebook over the past week. From upcoming devices and features to app updates, there’s a lot to catch up on!
A New Device?
Facebook may be releasing a home voice-activated device, joining the likes of Amazon and Google in the world of voice controlled products. This news comes from Cheddar, a livestreaming network that covers subjects like finance and technology.
According to Cheddar, Facebook’s video chat device will be called “Portal,” and it will be focused on social connection, including more features than just video chatting. It will also use a wide-angle lens and incorporate its facial recognition technology so it can connect people it sees to their Facebook accounts. (You might recall Facebook’s facial recognition tech was recently in the news because of its use in a new tagging feature.)
This focus does make Facebook’s potential new device sound a little different from devices like the typical smart device which functions as a personal assistant. With “Portal,” there will be a straightforward purpose—social engagement—though there will also be access to things like Spotify and Netflix.
Cheddar notes that the current plan is to officially announce “Portal” in May, as well as to sell it for $499. This is a pretty hefty price tag for a voice-controlled device, but of course, we’ll have to wait a while to get confirmation of the device and more details. At this point, not much is really known about its full features.
Facebook also released Messenger Kids for more devices this week. TechCrunch reports that Facebook’s messaging app is now available for Fire tablets. The app was previously available for iOS.
Messenger Kids is the child-safe version of Messenger. Children can use it to send messages and make video calls. However, they can only contact people approved by a parent, and kids aren’t able to hide messages from their parents, which makes it easier for parents to keep watch on their communication.
Facebook is also testing a new feature that lets users check in on credible local news. The section is called ‘Today In,’ and it is made up of local topics and content, according to Recode. It’s currently being tested in 6 cities, but eventually they hope to bring it to more cities and let users keep up with other cities they don’t currently live in.
The content will include local topics and news, all coming together through machine-learning software. The news content will only include articles from places their News Partnerships team has verified. This is so that users can feel more confident in the credibility of what they’re seeing.
It’s unclear when this feature might come to other cities. Until then, we can wait and see how it goes over in the current test cities.
Facebook is changing the way users learn about photos they’re in. Using the social media platform’s facial recognition that’s already in place, Facebook will now start notifying you when you’re in a photo someone uploads—even if they don’t tag you in it.
Facebook issued a press release this week detailing how the new process will work. With the new feature, Facebook’s facial recognition will spot users in other peoples’ photos and notify them about the upload. They’ll be able to go into their “Photo Review” and decide what action to take with the photo. The company notes that no one’s privacy settings will be overridden, however. Users will only be notified that they’re in a picture if the photo is set to public or if the user is in the post’s audience. So if a photo of a user is uploaded and the picture is set to a private audience, the person in the photo won’t know.
Facebook’s news post gives two reasons for the change: safety and accessibility. They want to cut back on people taking other users’ images and setting them as their own profile photos. (When someone uses another person’s photo and passes it off as their own, it’s called “catfishing,” a practice that’s fairly common on social media.) Current profile photos are always public, so this should help cut back on impersonation.
Also, Facebook suggests this feature will help people with visual impairments. Now when a photo is described, it will include the names of everyone in the photo, whether they’ve been tagged or not. This will give people who are visually impaired an even more accurate experience when using social media.
The press release is also quick to point out that being included in the feature is not required of everyone. For one thing, it won’t be used at all in Canada or the European Union, because Facebook doesn’t use facial recognition there. For another, users can simply opt-out of the technology. Facebook is reshaping their settings to make it easier to turn off facial recognition. Their press release shows a screenshot of a “Facial Recognition” section of their mobile settings, and they describe the upcoming change as simply using an “on/off switch” that tells Facebook whether you want them to recognize you in pictures.
Many people are still wary of facial recognition technology, and understandably so. The good news is it’ll soon be very easy to stop Facebook from using it on those who are uncomfortable with it. For those who don’t mind having their face mapped, though, it’ll be easier to keep up with the photos they’re included in. If the feature works as promised, Facebook could majorly cut down on impostors. And while they’re at it, they’ll make their platform more useful and appealing to people who are visually impaired.