How to set up two-factor authentication on Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram

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The best way to secure your accounts is two-factor authentication, or 2FA. This a process that gives web services secondary access to the account owner (you) in order to verify a login attempt. Typically, this involves a phone number and / or email address. This is how it works: when you log in to a service, you use your mobile phone to verify your identity by either clicking on a texted / emailed link or typing in a number sent by an authenticator app.

FACEBOOK

The way to access Facebook’s 2FA settings is a bit different on the app and the web (and Facebook tends to update both layouts often).

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You can access your privacy settings on the mobile app on both iOS and Android by clicking the hamburger icon on the upper-right corner and scrolling down to the bottom to find the “Settings & Privacy” menu. Tap “Settings” > “Security and Login” and scroll down to “Use two-factor authentication.”

Like Instagram (they are part of the same company, after all), you can opt for a text message or an authentication app.

On the web, click the down arrow in the upper-right corner, and select “Settings & Privacy” > “Privacy Shortcuts.” Look for the “Account Security” heading and click on “Use two-factor authentication.”

Facebook lets you authenticate via text message or authentication app.
Facebook lets you authenticate via text message or authentication app.

Additionally, for apps that don’t support 2FA when logging in with a Facebook account (such as Xbox and Spotify), you can generate a unique password specifically associated with that account. From the original down arrow, select “Settings & Privacy” > “Settings” and then, from the menu on the left, “Security & Login” > “App passwords” (under the “Two-Factor Authorization” subhead). After resubmitting your Facebook password, you’ll be able to name the app, click generate, and save that password for the next time you have to log in.

TWITTER

On the Twitter mobile app, tap the three-line “hamburger” icon at the top left of the screen and find the “Settings and privacy” selection. Go to “Account” > “Security.” Click on “Two-factor authentication” and follow the directions.

On the web, click on “More” in the left-hand menu and find “Settings and privacy.” Click on “Security and account access” (or you can just follow this link). Select “Security” > “Two-factor authorization.”

Once you’re all set up, Twitter will either ask for verification through an authentication app, or you will text a code number to your phone number when you want to log in. Twitter has also added security key support.

Twitter 2FA

INSTAGRAM

Instagram added 2FA to its mobile app in 2017, but now you can also activate it through the web.

To activate 2FA on your mobile app, head over to your profile and click the hamburger menu on the upper-right corner. Look for “Settings” > “Security,” where you’ll find a menu item for Two-Factor Authentication.

Here, you can choose between text message-based verification or a code sent to your authentication app.

To turn on 2FA using the web, log in and head to your profile. Next to your profile name and the Edit Profile button, there is a gear icon. Clicking this will pop open a settings menu, where you can find the same Privacy and Security section as on the app. From here, you can turn on 2FA and, just as in the app, choose your method for verification.

Clicking on the gear icon will pop open a settings menu.
Clicking on the gear icon will pop open a settings menu.

WHATSAPP

Open up WhatsApp, and find the Settings menu under the upper-right hamburger icon. Look under “Account” > “Two-step verification” > “Enable.” The app will ask you to enter a six-digit PIN to use as verification and optionally add an email address in case you forget your PIN.

Having an associated email with your WhatsApp account is important since the service won’t let you reverify yourself if you’ve used WhatsApp within the last seven days and have forgotten your PIN. So if you can’t wait a week to reverify for whatever reason, it’s helpful to have entered an email address so you can log yourself in or disable 2FA. In the same vein: be cautious of emails encouraging you to turn off 2FA if you didn’t request it yourself.

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