Facebook introduces Trusted Contacts: It’s like giving your neighbors a spare key

facebookThere are many parallels between owning a home and owning a social media account. Both say a lot about who we are, and how we present ourselves to the world. Both are spaces – physical or virtual – in which we interact with others, and control the level at which we do so, allowing some further inside while others are shut out. And, of course, both can be hacked by outside forces and used against us by impostors taking our identities.

Okay, maybe the analogy fell apart a little towards the end, but don’t blame me entirely; I wasn’t the one who came up with it – that honor goes to Facebook, who made the connection when announcing its new Trusted Contacts feature that is, as the company puts it, like giving a friend the spare key to your house.

With Trusted Contacts, Facebook users can select between three to five of their friends who can act as gatekeepers to the user’s account. Facebook recommends users pick people they actually know in real life and can contact without using Facebook, “ideally over the phone or in person, since you’ll need to contact them when you can’t log in.”

If the user is for some reason unable to log in to their account, they can reach their trusted contacts who’ll be able to give them special security codes. Once the user has collected three of those codes, they can use the codes to enter Facebook and reclaim the troubled account.

“With trusted contacts, there’s no need to worry about remembering the answer to your security question or filling out long web forms to prove who you are,” the Facebook Security team wrote in a post announcing the new system yesterday. “You can recover your account with help from your friends.”

At a glance, the system seems like a good way to get around potential identity theft schemes that gives users some feeling of control. They get to choose their trusted friends, and not have to rely on more impersonal and occasionally arcane methods of contacting a faceless email account and hoping for the best to get things reset. The need to obtain three codes from three sources also cuts down on alternative access by hackers.

However, this requirement of three codes can feel particularly frustrating: What if you can only reach two of your five friends? Or if your trusted contacts accidentally give the wrong code? As a first step towards humanizing the security process, it’s definitely a good start, but as a finished solution? We’ll see if it’ll work out as Facebook intended.

Social Media

Periscope tool adds guests to feeds so streamers can become talk show hosts

Periscope users can now invite viewers to chime into the conversation with more than just the comment tool. By enabling the option to add guests, livestreamers can add guests to the conversation, in audio format only.
Home Theater

What is Netflix Roulette, and how exactly does it work?

For years, educated viewers have been using Netflix Roulette to broaden their horizons. The web app can help you find movies and shows you'd never think to watch! What exactly is it, though, and how do you use it? We explain it all.
Computing

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.
Smart Home

Your office is a mess, and it’s making Marie Kondo cry. Here’s how to tidy it up

Here's how to "Marie Kondo" your office. If you've been inspired to remove clutter and create a minimalistic workspace that makes you happy and helps you focus on what matters, then we have ideas that you'll want to try.
Gaming

You're never too broke to enjoy the best free-to-play games

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially popular League of Legends.
Photography

Crouching, climbing, and creeping, the perfect Instagram shot knows no bounds

Just how far will you go for the perfect Instagram? A recent survey shows just how willing Instagram users -- and Instagram husbands -- are to climb, lie down, embarrass themselves or let their food go cold for the perfect shot.
Social Media

Facebook’s long-promised ‘unsend’ feature arrives. Here’s how to use it

Send a message to the wrong person? Messenger now gives you 10 minutes to take it back. After an update beginning to roll out today, users can now retract messages if they act within the first 10 minutes after sending the message.
Social Media

YouTube boss admits even her own kids gave the ‘Rewind’ video a thumbs down

YouTube's 2018 Rewind video went down like a lead balloon at the end of last year, becoming the most disliked video in its history. And now YouTube's CEO has admitted that even her own kids thought it was pretty darn awful.
Social Media

Snapchat finally recovers from its redesign — so here comes an Android update

Snapchat's drop in users after launching a controversial redesign has finally stagnated. During the fourth quarter and 2018 earnings report, Snapchat shared that the company is rolling out an Android update designed to increase performance.
Social Media

Skype’s new ‘blur background’ feature could help keep you from blushing

Skype's latest feature for desktop lets you blur your background during video calls. The idea is that it keeps you as the focus instead of distracting others with whatever embarrassing things you might have on show behind you.
Social Media

Twitter users are declining but more people are seeing ads every day

Twitter's end-of-the-year report for 2018 is a mix of good and bad news. The good news is that more users are seeing adds daily, the metric the company will focus on moving forward. But the bad news is that monthly active users are…
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Computing

YouTube beats Apple, Netflix as the most trusted brand by millennials

The popular video sharing website YouTube climbed up in an annual Mblm study, moving up from third place in 2018 and coming ahead of both Apple and Netflix in final 2019 rankings. 
Social Media

LinkedIn finally gets around to launching its own live video tool

Live video is coming to LinkedIn for businesses and individuals on the site. The livestreaming feature is launching in beta in the U.S. before rolling out to the entire community.