Data Doctors: What to do about the end of Facebook Trusted Contacts

Q: I just got a notification that Facebook’s “Trusted Contacts” is going away, so what, if anything, do I need to do about this?

A: Facebook introduced this very important security feature in 2013, and it’s one that I’ve stressed every user should set up since it was launched.

It can be instrumental when you forget your password, no longer have access to the original email account associated with your profile or find yourself locked out of the account.

It allows you to designate three to five friends as Trusted Contacts who could help you regain access to your account by sending a special code to them that would unlock your profile.

Facebook hasn’t given a reason why they are shutting it down; they just started recently sending out the following notification: “Trusted Contacts is going away soon. This means your chosen friends will no longer be able to help you get back on Facebook if you lose access to your account.”

Check email and phone settings

The only way for Facebook to associate an individual with a profile is via the email address and phone number used when the account was set up.

It happens a lot that people who have had an account for a very long time no longer have access to the email address they used when they signed up. This can be a huge hurdle should you ever get locked out, so make sure your current email address is associated with your profile.

The steps for adding or removing an email address in your profile are posted online.

While you are checking your email settings, do the same with your phone number; it also plays a significant role in securing your account.

Two-factor authentication

This very important security feature is tied to the phone number registered with Facebook and prevents someone from accessing your account if they steal your password.

When it’s turned on, Facebook will send a code to your registered phone number when it does not recognize the device or browser being used to access your account.

Unless the cyberthief has stolen both your password and your unlocked smartphone, it will prevent them from getting in and serve as a warning system that someone has your password.

The instructions for setting up two-factor authentication are also online.

Legacy Contacts

Not to be confused with Trusted Contacts, a Legacy Contact is someone designated to manage your profile should you pass away.

Facebook has an option to convert a profile to a memorialized account so it gets preserved and managed by the Legacy Contact.

This does not mean they can log into the account and use it however they want. It allows them to do the following:

  • Write a pinned post for the memorialized profile (ex: to share a final message on behalf of the deceased or provide information about a memorial service)
  • Respond to new friend requests (ex: old friends or family members who weren’t yet on Facebook)
  • Update the profile picture and cover photo

No specific date has been published for the end of Trusted Contacts, so take a minute to review all these settings soon.

Ken Colburn is founder and CEO of Data Doctors Computer Services. Ask any tech question on Facebook or Twitter.

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