How to use Facebook safely - your questions answered

People browse on phones

Every day, billions of people around the world use Facebook to post status updates, photos and videos. Whether you’re there to see what your friends are up to, catch up on the latest news or simply kill time, it's important to have all the necessary information to stay as safe as possible on the platform.

From what it means to have a safe account to how young people can report bullying, we put Mumsnet users' most burning questions to the experts at Facebook. Here's what they had to say.

What do you want to know?

How schools get involved with Facebook
Students at school

Is Facebook working with any schools, local councils or agencies to promote and support the safe use of the internet?

Yes. We've partnered with Childnet international and The Diana Award to offer every UK secondary school a chance to be part of the Digital Safety Ambassador programme. By training school kids to become peer-to-peer educators, we empower them to show other teens how best to deal with bullying, whether online or offline.
We empower school kids to show other teens how best to deal with bullying, whether online or offline.
We also provide teachers with dedicated resources on our Bullying Prevention Hub which gives general tips and strategies to help them create school policies, promote a positive classroom environment and prevent bullying before it occurs. Our Digital Literacy Library also provides teachers with a wealth of free lesson plans designed by experts to help young people be smarter and safer in how they engage with the digital world.

How to report bullying on Facebook
Girl uses phone

How can teenagers report nastiness or bullying on Facebook?

If you need to report a post in your News Feed, click the three dots in the top-right corner of the post and select 'Give feedback or report post'.

Abusive behaviour on Facebook is totally unacceptable, so we've created tools to enable anyone anonymously report nastiness or bullying.
You can also click the three dots beside a comment to report it. Facebook Messenger has similar options. If you're using Messenger on a computer, you can click the grey cog icon on the far right and select 'Something's wrong'. Or if you're on a mobile, simply click the group or name at the top to access the same option.

When something is reported to us, we'll review it and remove anything that doesn't follow the Facebook Community Standards. Find out more about how you can report content to us here.

What procedure does Facebook follow if they receive complaints? Are cyberbullying posts removed swiftly?

Any time we find content that doesn't follow the Facebook Community Standards, we act fast to remove it. Between July and September 2018, we took action on 2.1 million pieces of content that violated our policies for bullying and harassment. In fact, we proactively removed 15% of it before anyone reported it, thanks to our team of about 15,000 content reviewers who work 24/7 around the world. We aim to take down offensive content as quickly as possible and will prioritise cases that present a possible threat to personal or public safety, in which we alert the relevant authorities.

Setting up a safe Facebook account
Man uses Facebook

Do you have an easy guide to understanding Facebook and a specific guide for children’s accounts and how to keep them safe?

Yes, we do. There's our Basics page and the Parents portal. Basics is where you can find everything from top tips on how to get started on Facebook to some of the more in-depth settings such as how to control your privacy, security and the ads you see. The Parents portal is a place for parents to learn the basics of using Facebook. It provides useful tips for having successful conversations with teens about staying safe online and on Facebook, as well as links to local organisations and plenty of other helpful resources.

How do you set up a teenager’s account to be as safe as possible?

If you want to help a teen make their account as safe as possible, there are a number of things we recommend.
A strong, secure password is important – something that’s difficult to guess and that they don’t use anywhere else.
First off, get familiar with their basic privacy settings. The best way to do this is to head over to Settings on Facebook, and then choose 'Privacy Check-Up' or 'Privacy Shortcuts' from the drop-down. These features will help them customise their privacy settings to be exactly right, deciding who gets to see what content. We also recommend ensuring they have a strong, secure password – something that’s difficult to guess and that they don’t use anywhere else. Find out more here.

Can users set reminders that notify them when it's time to take a break?

We want everyone to spend a healthy amount of time on Facebook, so we’ve created a tool that allows anyone to set daily limits on their account usage. Once set, they’ll receive a reminder whenever they reach that daily limit. We also created 'Your time on Facebook', which lets people see exactly how much time they spend on the platform. Ultimately, we want to empower people to better understand their own habits and give them the tools to control or change them.

How is Facebook promoting safe use of the internet for teens and young people?

It’s a collection of lesson plans, designed by experts, to help young people develop the skills they need to navigate the digital world.

Within our online Safety Centre, you’ll find our Youth Portal – it’s a resource dedicated to helping young people stay safe on Facebook. It has everything from security tips to peer-to-peer advice on how to stay protected online and make the most out of the platform. We've also made the Digital Literacy Library. It’s a collection of lesson plans, designed by experts, to help young people develop the skills they need to navigate the digital world. These engaging, interactive lessons involve group discussions, activities, quizzes and games that have been built in collaboration with teens.

Do you think there should be a stronger verification process when setting up a Facebook account? Some sort of ID to verify age so that young children cannot access an account?

We want Facebook to be easy to join while also having strong processes in place to protect users. We, therefore, need to strike a balance between policing the age of our users and protecting against abuse/dangerous/objectionable content that violates our Community Standards. We require our users to be at least 13 years old to create an account. It violates our terms of services to provide a false age when creating an account. We use cookies to help stop people from circumventing our age requirement. We also rely on our community to report under-age users. People can report an account belonging to someone under 13 by filling out this form. If our reviewers have reason to believe the account might belong to someone under the age of 13 they are instructed to checkpoint that account and then seek verification of age from the account holder.

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