How Facebook Trusted Contacts Get You Back Into a Locked Account

Social media plays an increasingly prominent role in just about everything that we do online, both personally and professionally. We use it to connect with old friends from high school, just as we use it to stay in touch with business contacts we meet at conferences and trade shows. We use it support one another in our endeavors, share our latest accomplishments, and network with like-minded people to discuss a broad array of subject matter.

That’s all great, but what happens if your account gets compromised? What if someone tries to hack into your account and you end up getting locked out as a result? This is all the more reason why you should have certain safeguards in place, like utilizing two-factor authentication wherever possible and ensuring that you have unique, strong passwords for all of your online dealings. Even so, things happen and you may lose access to some of your most important accounts.

Among the features that Facebook has in place for privacy basics is a featured called trusted contacts.

What Are Trusted Contacts?

The idea behind trusted contacts is that you can get in touch with three to five friends that you trust the most when you get locked out of your Facebook account for any reason. Each of these friends will receive a “piece” of a security code that you can then use to regain access to your account.

When choosing friends to be your “trusted contacts,” several considerations should be heeded.

First, these are understandably friends that you know reasonably well and can trust to help you when you need it. Second, these friends are preferably in the same (or similar) time zone as you, ideally people you know in real life and would know your voice if they heard it. This way, they’re more likely be awake and available should you have to call on them for help. And third, you need to be able to reach these friends by telephone on a reasonably reliable basis. If you can’t get in touch with them, they’re not going to be of much help to you.

You can also change or remove the friends you’ve chosen at any time by going back into the configuration settings.

How Can I Set My Facebook Trusted Contacts?

The official instructions provided by Facebook indicate that you should do the following:

  1. Log into your Facebook account as normal.
  2. Click on “More” in the upper-right corner.
  3. Select Account Settings.
  4. Select Security and Login.
  5. Choose 3 to 5 good friends you can easily contact by phone.

When I tried to follow these instructions, I found my Facebook user interface didn’t align with them exactly, but the basic idea was the same.

  1. Log into your Facebook account.
  2. Click on the “down arrow” in the top-right corner, next to the “?” help button.
  3. Choose Settings from the resulting menu.
  4. Click on Security near the top of the left sidebar.
  5. Scroll down to Your trusted contacts.
  6. Choose your 3 to 5 friends by typing their names.
  7. Click the blue Confirm button.

How Do I Regain Access to My Account?

Well, now you’ve done it. Maybe your account got hacked. Maybe several of your online accounts have been compromised. For whatever reason, you’ve been locked out of Facebook. Well, it’s a good thing you have trusted contacts setup, right? To get back into your account, follow these steps.

  1. Go to the Facebook homepage on your computer.
  2. Click on Forgot account? on the login page.
  3. Look up your account based on full name, email address, phone number, or username. Click Search.
  4. If presented with a list, choose the account that matches yours by clicking the This Is My Account button.
  5. Choose an associated email address where you still have access. If you don’t have access, click on No longer have access to these?
  6. Type in an email address that you know you have access to. Click Continue.
  7. You will now be able to click on Reveal My Trusted Contacts.
  8. Type in the full name of one of your trusted contacts.
  9. The resulting instructions include a recovery URL.
  10. Call your trusted contacts and tell them to go to that URL while logged into Facebook.
  11. When they open the link, they’ll be presented with a security code for you.
  12. Use that recovery code to regain access to your Facebook account.

This might sound like a lot of work and it might sound like a bit of a burden for your friend(s), but imagine how much more headache you’d have to endure trying to unlock your Facebook account otherwise. You’d otherwise have to call into Facebook, perhaps, and who knows how that could turn out?

Hopefully you’ll never have to use this feature, just like you hope you never have to use your car insurance or travel insurance, but it sure provides peace of mind knowing it’s there if you do need it.

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