Facebook is a popular and valuable resource for connection, serving millions of users. However, the constant and unfiltered exchange of information can create a minefield of potential risks to note and navigate. Many people feel more comfortable connecting online when they know more about online safety and the platform they are using.
Users of all ages are susceptible to the rewards and potential pitfalls of Facebook, but seniors who are less familiar with social media may find themselves in potentially embarrassing and compromising positions online more frequently.
At Daystar Retirement Village in West Seattle, our staff is can provide guidance with the generational gaps that happen when technology rapidly evolves to make Facebook safe for seniors. There is no reason to be intimidated by Facebook or any online social media platform. Learn the basics so you feel comfortable and ready to connect with friends and family online.
Facebook Instructions for Seniors
You can learn to use Facebook safely, even if you're just starting out. When you're just starting out on Facebook, there are a few things to know.
Facebook for Seniors: Things to Avoid
1. Putting Your Privacy at Risk
Facebook is, first and foremost, a social networking service. This means that Facebook is programmed to connect you with people you likely know in the real world. While that is helpful for staying in touch with your loved ones, reconnecting with old circles, or making new friends, it also means much of the information you post or generate when using Facebook is available to both the public (depending on your privacy settings) and to the Facebook Corporation. While there is nothing you can do to ensure total privacy of your Facebook history, you can take measures so it only reaches your intended audience.
Here are the steps to modify your Facebook privacy settings:
1) Sign in to your Facebook account.
2) Select the Privacy icon on the homepage and click on the Privacy Checkup drop-down option to be guided through your current privacy settings.
3) Make any updates you would like to your privacy settings.
4) Check back every few months to be sure nothing has changed and there are no new options or settings.
2. Avoid Spam and Scams
Malicious actors use every form of technology to scam others or steal their information, and that includes Facebook. Malware that steals your personal information is often spread through bad links, malicious software, or files. This means it is important to be careful about what you click and download.
Do not click links from sources, websites, or email addresses you do not recognize.
If you run across something that looks suspicious on Facebook, you can report it.
Facebook also provides the following tips for reviewing your account and removing spam:
- Check your login history for suspicious logins
- Check your Activity Log and delete any unwanted actions
- Check your installed apps and games and delete anything you don't trust
- Delete any photos, posts, pages, groups, or events you didn't create
Facebook scams generally entail people creating fake accounts or hacking into existing accounts to trick other users into giving them personal information or money. You can usually detect a scam if the person asks you to send money first to receive something in return. Poor spelling and grammatical errors are often indicators of scam messages or posts, as well.
If you receive a message from a friend’s account that seems uncharacteristic or odd, don’t respond, as it’s likely their account was hacked. Instead, contact them through a different medium to find out if they actually sent the message. Reject "friend requests" from people you don't know.
3. Don’t Share Your Current Location
It’s fun to post about your current activities on Facebook. However, using geolocation tags in your posts also provide information regarding your whereabouts that can be used by online contacts and strangers in a negative way. For example, posting photos while on vacation demonstrates that you’re not home, which can invite criminals to target your residence. Wait until you are back home to post photos or statuses about an out-of-town trip and don’t share your location manually.
4. Beware of Fake News
Fake news has become an increasingly troublesome problem over the past few years. Bad actors create stories that are likely to get lots of clicks and shares because they are shocking. They often benefit from advertising, which pays more when the fake news site gets many visits.
Facebook users sometimes share articles or other content from unverified and disreputable sources without first checking to see if the information is true. This behavior spreads misinformation that is detrimental to communities and society as a whole. Before clicking on or opening a piece of content shared by someone – even a friend or family member – check the source, and don't believe everything you see or read.
Facebook for Seniors: Things to Do
Despite the risks fostered in online communities, they also possess distinctly valuable possibilities. Here are a few ways you can use Facebook in a safe way that enhances your social life:
1. Connect with Friends and Family
The best part of Facebook is staying in touch with friends and family, especially if they live in a different town. Through Facebook, you can see what they’re up to, look at their photos, and leave them comments and messages. While nothing can replace in-person interaction for extroverts, online communication helps abate loneliness by giving you daily touchpoints with the people who matter to you. Many introverts prefer this slower, more thoughtful communication to phone calls with family and friends. It also keeps you abreast of birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, and other life events.
2. Find Local Events
Companies, organizations, and individuals can create and share pages about their local events. You can browse the ones in your area through the Events page on Facebook and see which ones are open to the public. Some event pages even have options for signing up or reserving a spot. If you know the event you want to go to but need details, you can look it up by typing the name into the Search box at the top of your Profile Page.
3. Research Businesses
Facebook has become an integral part of doing business for organizations in every industry, which works to your advantage. Via Facebook, you can find ample business information, including a company’s contact information and operating hours. If you’re unfamiliar with a business, you can use Facebook to research its history, services and products, past accomplishments, and more. Current and former customers also leave reviews on Facebook with information you can use when choosing the businesses you want to patronize.
4. Find Local and National News
While you want to avoid the fake news epidemic, Facebook is a good resource for connecting to the news sources you trust and follow., Even local media companies, including newspapers and radio stations, have Facebook pages where they post breaking news, feature stories, and other content. You can stay up to date with local, state, national, and international news by “Liking” and “Following” reputable news sources.
Expand Your Circle with Senior Living
If you’re interested in new connections and social opportunities, no matter your interest or interaction style, we invite you to consider joining our Daystar Village community. Reach out today and experience the community for yourself!
“Facebook for Seniors.” SeniorAdvisor.com blog. Accessed online at https://www.senioradvisor.com/blog/2014/10/top-three-facebook-hacks-every-senior-needs-to-know/
“Avoid Spam and Scams.” Facebook Help Page. Accessed online at https://www.facebook.com/help/1584206335211143/?helpref=hc_fnav
“Should you share your location on social media?” Equifax blog post. Accessed online at https://www.equifax.co.uk/resources/identity_protection/should-you-share-your-location-on-social-media.html