As Facebook has taken hold of our social lives, it has become more than just a virtual lounge for hanging out with family and friends. Today, people all over the world can create groups, do business, create de facto websites for their organizations and schedule a whole calendar of events under the banner of that lower-case “f.”
You can broadcast live on Facebook (click here to learn a few insider secrets only the pros know), and it has you covered if you’re looking for an alternative to Craigslist (click here to learn how to sell your stuff on Facebook).
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real Facebook aficionados have a whole arsenal of tools at their disposal to help them remember long-lost acquaintances, monitor their security and send enormous files with the click of a button.
What are these secret Facebook functions? Read on.
1. Find out where you’re logged in
You can open Facebook on your computer, and you can open it on your phone. Many users keep it open all day long, jumping from device to device to check up on friends or post a picture. But often we forget exactly where we’ve logged in, and whether we ever logged out.
Luckily, you can check. Facebook lets you view all the places you’ve logged in. Better yet, you can see whether someone has logged into your account, pretending to be you.
This powerful feature is remarkably easy to find. Just to go to Settings >> Security Settings >> Where You’re Logged In, and you’ll find a list of devices that are currently accessing your Facebook account. The feature also lists login metadata, such as when and where you last checked in, plus the type of device you used. Keep in mind that cellphones sometimes show weird locations that may refer to a cellphone tower, not where you were standing at the time.
That said, if your login information looks fishy, it’s possible your account has been compromised. It’s best to lock down access before this even happens. Click here to take an extra step to secure your Facebook account.
2. Check message requests folder
One of Facebook’s most eccentric features is the “Message Request.” If your (real) friend Eddy writes to your account, but
you haven’t made your relationship “Facebook official,” Eddy’s message will get sent to the Message Request folder. Many diehard Facebook users have no idea that this folder even exists, so messages may languish for months or years before they get noticed.
If you haven’t already, you should probably check this folder. Some of the messages may be spam, but who knows? You may have received a note from your long-lost high school crush. I mentioned this folder on my national radio show and heard from a woman who had received an out-of-the-blue email from her birth mother.
To check on this secret folder, go to Messenger >> Settings >> Message Requests >> See Filtered Requests. This will reveal the messages that Facebook has hidden from you.
3. Send files using Messenger
Not long ago, Messenger was just a quaint alternative to email. Facebook has bulked up this service, giving you the ability to make phone calls, hold video chats, send money and other things.
One of those abilities: sending documents. By now, you probably know you can transmit Word docs, PDFs, photos and even short videos by Messenger.
But fewer users are aware that you can also use Dropbox to send files. No longer tethered only to email, Dropbox has teamed up
with Facebook to make sharing files even easier. For this to work, you’ll have to download the Dropbox and Messenger apps on your mobile device.
Here’s how it works:
* Open the Messenger app.
* Select the contact you would like to send the files to.
* Tap the More button. Tap Open next to the Dropbox listing
* Select the file you want to send. Dropbox will create a link for the file and download it to your gadget temporarily. If the file is large, you must wait for the download to complete before sending.
* Once the file is downloaded and ready to send, switch back to the Messenger app.
* Tap the Send option for the file. This is to confirm that you really want to send it.
Facebook recently added an end-to-end encryption privacy setting to its Messenger app that allows you to have “secret conversations” that no one else can access. But to take advantage of this feature, you must turn it on, as the default setting for conversations in the Messenger app is off. Click here for more about this essential privacy setting in Facebook Messenger.
4. Set up a legacy contact
You may be familiar with this scenario. A friend or loved one dies, and you realize that the deceased still has an active Facebook
account, but there is no way to access it. This can be extremely unsettling for the mourning survivors.
This is why many people set up a “legacy contact” – someone who will take over an account after its owner dies. The legacy contact can save all materials, alert contacts that the person is no longer alive and prevent the account from sending out automatic friend requests.
To set this up, tap Settings >> Account Settings >> Security >> Legacy Contact. Then just pick someone from your contacts. You can decide whether to send this person an automated message to let them know about the honor you’ve bestowed. You can also give this contact the ability to download and archive your full body of posts, photos and profile information.
5. Add trusted contacts
You probably have a friend or neighbor who holds on to a copy of your house key, just in case you get locked out. Well, a “trusted contact” is essentially the same thing, only it’s for Facebook passwords. While most people will never be in this situation, it’s nice to have a little extra help in an emergency.
To select trusted contacts, open Settings >> Account Settings >> Security >> Your Trusted Contacts >> Choose Trusted Contacts. Then, just like your legacy contact, you can pick from your full list of friends.
6. Opt out of advertisements
Throughout your Facebook experience, you’ll receive advertisements based on your perceived interests. For people who value their privacy, this snooping can be very unsettling.
To throw Facebook off your scent, open Settings >> Accounts Settings >> Ads. You will see four categories to choose from:
1. Can you see online interest-based ads from Facebook?
2. Can your Facebook ad preferences be used to show your ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies?
3. Who can see your social actions paired with ads?
4. Manage the preferences we use to show you ads.
For each category, select Yes or No.
7. Relive your relationships
Once you hit a few hundred friends, you may start forgetting who some of them are. Don’t be embarrassed. It happens to almost everybody. You find, say, “Ian Ferguson” in your list of friends, and the picture doesn’t ring any bells. Who is this guy? Go to www.facebook.com/us, and you will see the complete history you share on Facebook with one of your contacts. This may very well ring some bells.
While you’re here, go to About >> Family and Relationships >> Edit, and you’ll find a drop-down menu. Depending on your status, you can add the name of the person you’re in a relationship with and the date of your anniversary.
To add a relationship as a life event on your profile, hit About >> Life Events, then select the type of relationship you’d like to add.
Want are more clever social media tricks? Be sure to listen to my national radio show or download my podcasts, or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.
Copyright 2017, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved. Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.