Does Facebook Sign You Out When You're Idle?

by Melly Parker

Facebook offers many ways to protect your privacy and segregate what you share. You can specify exactly who can see each status update, photo album or Timeline post. If someone else has access to your Facebook account, though, everything is available to him. Signing out of Facebook when you're done with a session is one way to keep your information private.

Idle Sign Off

Some websites, after a certain period of time, close your session and sign you out of the site. This practice helps protect you from other people accessing your account and your information. Facebook doesn't log you out when you're idle -- though it does end your session when you close the browser if you don't enable the "Keep Me Signed In" option on the Facebook sign-in page.

Privacy

Even if the computer you're using is in your own home, there are privacy concerns that may arise when even a trusted family member accesses your Facebook account. For example, many people use Facebook chat to discuss private and sensitive issues with friends -- the discussions are private, but a person who has access to your Facebook account can read the logs. He also has access to information you keep private -- so pictures meant only for your best friends could be seen by someone who uses your computer with Facebook signed in.

Public Computers

If you check Facebook on a public computer, a more complex set of problems await, such as identity theft. An unknown person could get onto the public computer, open Facebook and have access to all of your data, including items you've blocked from public view. If you've transmitted personal information to friends -- like your address, for example -- the person would be able to see it. Many Facebook accounts also have a form of payment connected for in-app purchases; if you leave your Facebook account logged in on a public computer, a person could use your payment method to make purchases.

Solutions

Although Facebook doesn't log you out, it does provide a way to close a session when you're not at the computer where the session is logged in. With the remote sign-out feature, you can sign into Facebook on any computer, see whether you have additional active sessions and then close them. Remote sign-out is available under your security settings. There's also an extension for Firefox called Facebook Auto-Logout that logs users out of Facebook after a set period of inactivity.

Photo Credits

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