• Catherine Jackson COLF

Safety in Groups

It's said there's safety in numbers, right? There are groups of people all over social media too, but we hear some horror stories about it. Let's talk about making sure we stay safe in Facebook groups.

When you join a Facebook group, it allows you to interact with other members of the group, for example commenting on their posts, replying to their comments, and entering group Chats with them, which work like Messenger.

Obviously there's not much point being on any forum without being able to take part in the discussion. But it does raise a few security concerns that you need to be aware of. The first and biggest one, is that other members of the group now know you exist. And that means they might send you messages or Friend Requests. First, Messages - what can we do about unwanted messages? When you first join a group, Facebook might ask you if you are OK with people sending you messages, like this:

It's great if this shows up, but if it doesn't, people are automatically able to send you messages, even if they don't know you. That's the bad part.

The good part is..... they will have no idea if you've read them, until you say so!

Messages from people you don't know, go into your Message Requests. Sometimes, they're tricky to find even when you want to see them! So here is how you find them: On a computer, when you're looking at messages, there is a Settings Cog at the top left, near your profile picture (see below). When you click it, a list drops down. "Message Requests" is in that list. When you click it, the main list of messages changes to see your messages from people you don't know.

If you use a phone or tablet, on the Messenger app, tap your profile picture in the top corner:

.... then Message Requests is the second option on the list:

When you tap it, the main list of messages changes to see your messages from people you don't know.

Here's the important part: when you read a message request, only you know you've read it.

Normally, on a regular chat with one of your friends, the time they read the message shows up under the last message. Or if it's the Messenger app, a little tiny profile picture of theirs follows you down the right hand side of the chat. But with Message Requests, that doesn't happen until you acknowledge their message. So in a nutshell, YOU have control over whether they can actually have a conversation with you. And if you don't even want to see them, you can tap "I don't want to hear from [their name]" which is at the bottom of the screen. And boom - they're blocked. When you're done you can just click back on the Settings Cog at the top and choose "All Messages" or "All Chats". Second, Friend Requests. What can we do about those? Quite a lot, actually! Facebook gives you quite a bit of control over who sees your profile and how they can interact with you if you're not already friends. Let's take a look at your Facebook settings. Although you can see some of this on the app, it's usually easiest on a computer. Click the (very small!!) triangle at the very top right of Facebook, in the blue strip. It drops down this list:

Click Settings near the bottom, to see the screen below. Then click Privacy on the left (shown highlighted).

Let's take a closer look at the "How People can Find and Contact You" section in the middle.

The first option is "Who can send you friend requests?" I have my friend requests set to "Friends of Friends" - that way, if I don't have mutual friends with someone, they can't ask to be my friend. That's handy because if I know someone they know, I'm more likely to have met them. To change this option, click "Edit" on the right, and you'll be given options. Choose the one you want then click Close (on the right, out of shot).

Next, there are lots of options as to who can see who you are already friends with. This could be important if someone is trying to add friends on Facebook to sell to. This option works in a similar way - choose the one you want, then click Close (on the right, out of shot).

Once you're happy with these settings on your Facebook profile, you'll feel a lot safer using Facebook groups, and you'll minimise the possibility of unwanted communications.

Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, feel free to comment, or send me an email:

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