Skip to main content

Before someone hijacks your Facebook or Gmail, here’s what you need to turn on

Think about it: If somebody wants to really wreck your life, all they need is access to your personal email account. Because all too often, a single email address can grant access to your bank account, all the shopping sites you keep your credit card stored on, not to even mention all your personal private emails.

Worse yet, imagine if your ex or somebody that just flat out hated you had access to your Facebook. Not only would they see all your private messages, but they could pretend to be the worst possible version of you they could imagine. I shudder to think of the fad a few years ago of teenagers sharing their passwords to “prove” their love.

There’s a solution. Facebook calls it Login Approvals, Twitter calls it Login Verification, Amazon and Google prefer the phrase Two ­Step Verification, and security geeks call it Two Factor or Multi­Factor Authentication. Whatever you call it, it means there’s an extra step beyond typing in your password that’s necessary to access your account.

If you’ve used a debit card, it’s something you’re already used to. First you put the card in the ATM, then you enter in your PIN. Most online services prefer sending you a fresh code via text message every time you log in somewhere new, rather than having you use the same code over and over.

If that doesn’t sound like much, remember: If you’ve got your phone, they can’t log into your account, even if they have access to your computer. That might buy you the time to get online and change your passwords, so they can’t even access your accounts on that PC.

Two-step authentication isn’t perfect. If the online service gets hacked, they might find away around it. If somebody has access to your phone and your password and you blast all your SMS messages to your lock screen, they’ll get in. But if you’re concerned about somebody hacking into your accounts, whether it’s a family member or an online thief, it’ll make things that much harder for them.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’ll also make things that much harder for you. Leave your phone behind and you’ll be jumping through hoops: Twitter and Google, for example, give you the option of generating backup codes in case you lose your phone.

Ready to try it?

In Facebook, click on the triangle in the upper right-hand corner, then click on “security” on the left side of the page, and click on “login approvals.” Check the box that says “require a security code to access my account from unknown browsers” and enter your phone number. For Google, go to, click on “sign ­in & security,” scroll down to “password & sign ­in method,” and click on two-step verification. This will launch a new window. You’ll have to click on “start setup” to get things rolling… then you can enter your number and choose to receive your codes via text message or voice calls.

Google will send you a code to verify that the number works, then you can choose to “trust this computer,” which means you won’t need a code every time you log in. Finally, you can turn on two-step verification. I suggest you try it for one service, whichever service you’re the most concerned about, then see if you’re ready to roll it out across all the services you use online. That’s what I did.

Paranoid? Maybe, but I’d rather not be staring at somebody using my Facebook page while I think, “Maybe I should have turned on the whole two step thing…”

Patrick Norton
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Patrick cohosts TekThing, a video show packed with viewer questions, product reviews, and how-tos. He also works on This Week…
How to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows
A man sits, using a laptop running the Windows 11 operating system.

Windows includes many interesting tools, but if you’re like many people, more and more of your digital life is happening in your web browser and nowhere else. That being the case, you’ll want to keep your most important websites close at hand. The easiest way to access them in Windows is the Start menu and the taskbar, treating them more or less like programs in and of themselves.

Although easy overall, getting a website from your browser to your taskbar is slightly different depending on which browser you’re using.

Read more
Amazon’s Big Spring sale: Save on TVs, laptops, appliances, and more
Amazon Big Spring sale promo image

Deal hunter or not, you'll be pleased to know that Amazon's Big Spring sale is officially underway. It's your opportunity to save on a slew of buzzworthy deals, including TVs, laptops, appliances, various electronics, and much more. It shows that you don't always have to wait for Amazon's Prime Day to capitalize on fantastic discounts. If you've been holding off on buying something, hoping for a great deal, now's the time to pull the trigger. Because the sale is so massive, we've gathered a few of our top picks below. However, we still recommend browsing the sale to see what you can find.

What to shop in the Amazon Big Spring sale
For starters, if you want a new tablet, Samsung, Lenovo, and Google during the sale. The Galaxy Tab A9+ is available for 19% to 23% off. Meanwhile, Google's Pixel Tablet is 19% to 25% off, depending on the model. Samsung's , and its gaming monitor is down to $140, usually $190. Or, the beautiful and much larger curved gaming monitor is $700, normally $1,300.

Read more
How to create a Subreddit on desktop and mobile
Laptop Working from Home

Few social media sites are as popular as Reddit. Regardless of what you're interested in, there's probably a thriving community for you to interact with on the platform. Known as subreddits, these communities are home to topics like gaming, world news, science, movies, and more. If you can't find a subreddit with your particular interest, Reddit makes it easy to create your own Reddit community.

Running a successful Reddit community isn't easy – but the process of starting one only takes a few minutes. Keep in mind that you'll want to keep a close eye on your subreddit to prevent it from being shut down or turning into a wasteland with no users, but running a subreddit can be a lot of fun when done properly. If you prefer, you can also create a private community that only your friends can join, giving you a place to hang out beyond Twitter and TikTok.

Read more