The only surefire way to NEVER have your Facebook account hacked is to not have a Facebook account. But there are some preventive measures you can take, as well as procedures you can have in place to help cushion the blow if it does happen to you. [Updated 11/17/21 to include information on adding Trusted Contacts to your account.]
Protect Yourself from Facebook Hacks (to a degree)
Use a secure password. You’d think this was a no-brainer. But I still have people coming to me for help who’ve been hacked and when I ask for their most recent password (it’s a recovery step which I cover in the second half of this post), it’s something like ‘skipper123’. Wanna know how secure your password really is? Head on over to experte.com and find out! The tool there will estimate how many years it would take a computer to crack your password AND tell you if the password you entered has been compromised by a data leak or hacker attack. My Facebook password would take 34,000 years to be hacked. I should be safe. 😉
Set up “Trusted Contacts” on your Facebook account. Designating trusted people from your Friends list can be helpful in the event you need to recover your account and/or have trouble logging in. Get to it by navigating to Settings > Security and Login > Security and Login > Setting Up Extra Security > Choose 3 to 5 friends to contact if you get locked out. Or try this link.
Facebook will even send you a reminder to check your trusted contacts from time to time.
Have a backup admin for your Facebook page. I’ve already touched on getting “helpers” for your Facebook account. But now I’m talking about your Facebook business Page. You can easily assign roles to your Page, and I highly recommend you do so. If you don’t have any official business partners (as is often the case with solopreneurs and microbusinesses), enlist a trusted friend, virtual assistant or other web professional to help. They don’t even ever have to *do* anything. But if your Facebook account is ever hacked, your Page will still be accessible by other Admins. They’ll be able to post updates for you if necessary, while you work to regain access. What’s more, it could potentially facilitate you regaining that access. Worst case scenario, if your account is hacked beyond restoration and you have to create a new Facebook account, your backup Admin(s) can give you back access to the page.
Know your Facebook URL. That way if Facebook restores your account you’ll be able to tell if they restored access to the correct one. For instance, my Facebook URL is facebook.com/bonnyvox. You can find your Facebook URL in the navigation field of your browser, like this:
Download a copy of your Facebook data. Go to the ‘Your Facebook Information‘ page in your privacy settings and select ‘Download Profile Information’. On the next page, Facebook will allow you to choose what information you want to save a copy of (Friends and Followers, Posts, Messages, Events, etc.) and what date range you want to include (from ‘Last week’ through ‘All time’). You won’t be able to automatically restore your data, but you’ll have a record of your friends and posts. Having this record will make it a little easier to re-friend and re-post if you must.
If You Are Hacked on Facebook
First, be sure that you’ve been hacked. Don’t confuse being impersonated with getting hacked. This is another important reason to know your Facebook URL. If you know your Facebook URL is facebook.com/jane.doe and the person ‘friending’ those you’re already Facebook friends with has a URL of facebook.com/jane.doe.123, you’re being impersonated, not hacked (and you can and should report impersonation as well).
Pay attention to emails from Facebook. Being alert to these messages and acting on them promptly could potentially save you a lot of headaches. Facebook does have procedures in place that attempt to notify its users of suspicious activity. The sooner you click the link in their email, the sooner you’ll be on the road to recovery.
Utilize Facebook’s built-in hack help. If the link(s) in any emails from Facebook aren’t working or have expired, try visiting facebook.com/hacked and walk through the steps Facebook will give you. It will try to help you regain control by asking for your phone number and a recent password. If this initial steps don’t work, you may have to provide an image of your photo ID (a driver’s license works) or other form of identification.
Change your passwords. Obviously, you want change your Facebook password once access has been restored. But also make sure to change the password of your associated email account. Who knows? It’s possible that’s how the hacker got to you in the first place!
Be patient; it’s a process. According to Statista, there are roughly 2.89 billion monthly active users on Facebook as of July 2021. If just 1% of those users are hacked at any given time, that means 28,900,000 people could be dealing with the same issue you are. Imagine the staff it would require to assist that many people quickly! That’s why they have automated systems in place.
Beware of scams. If you see an ad similar to the one below for help recovering your account, DO NOT ENGAGE. These are scammers who can potentially take possession of your account and hold it hostage for huge sums of money.
Also, 650-543-4800 is NOT Facebook’s customer service number. Neither is 650-308-7300. In fact, there is no publicly available email address to write to directly, phone number to call, or live chat option to reach their customer support.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways to protect against or mitigate after a Facebook hack.
Have you ever had your Facebook account hacked? What other tips have you got that could help someone in this situation? Share your ideas and experiences below!