Social networking site boosts security features in the face of mounting criticism over its efforts to protect privacy.
On the same day as an all-staff meeting about privacy issues at Facebook, the social networking site launched new security measures to battle spam, scams, and other malicious attacks.
The release of the new security features appeared to be unrelated to the companywide meeting, which Facebook described as a forum for employees "to ask questions on a topic that has received a lot of outside interest."
The new features include giving users the ability to approve the devices they log in from – for example, work computer, home computer, iPhone – and the option to receive notifications via email or text message when the account has been accessed via an unapproved one. (You can access the new feature by going to the "Account settings" page on Facebook. Once there, scroll down to "account security," then click "change.")
The company is also attempting to block suspicious log-ons. When Facebook notices unusual activity – simultaneous logging on from opposite sides of the planet, or from a device the account owner has never used before – the person trying to log on will be asked questions to prove he or she is the account's owner.
Facebook software engineer Lev Popov explained in a blog post Thursday: "For example, we might ask the person to enter a birth date, identify a friend in a photo or answer a security question if you've previously provided one. These questions are designed to be easy for you, and hard for a bad guy, and we've already seen some great results."
As Google's Gmail already does, Facebook will now let users check where the latest log-ins have occurred. "We're confident that these new tools and systems will do a lot to prevent unauthorized logins and the nuisance they can cause," Popov wrote.
Inc. contributing editor COURTNEY RUBIN was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.