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Issue #718: April 25 – May 1, 2021

Q: I have been having issues with attempting to access Facebook after failing to remember my old password.  I stumbled without success through many attempts at following messages sent to help with obtaining a new password.  After a few days I am now not able to access Messenger.  I am completely lost with what I should do following this expanding debacle.

– Michael Q.
Crestview, Florida

A: The first thing to understand, Michael, is that it is not a coincidence that it can often be a difficult process to recover when you don’t know your password.  If it was easy, then it would be easy for any “Internet Bad Guy” to simply make the attempt to get into anybody’s account, then claim that they forgot their password, and get a replacement.  This would lock-out the true account owner, while giving the interloper the ability to use the account with impunity.  Not good.

This concept applies not only to Facebook, but to many and varied online venues that protect their content by requiring credentials; usually a Username and Password, but increasingly, a third factor (more on that below).  Sometimes the reason for these safeguards is to protect the personal information of the account holder.  Alternately, it might be that the venue provides something of value, such as entertainment (games, or streaming movies, for example), and having their user accounts secure protects their intellectual property from being given away for free.

Whatever the reason, it is ultimately up to each account holder to keep their account credentials secure, and above all, to remember it, so that when a site asks for it, they are able to provide it for verification of their right to access the site. Despite all that’s at stake, almost all online services provide an automated means to recover your password, and Facebook is no exception.  They have a vested interest in helping you maintain your ability to log in, so you can keep using the service.  Now, other than your description of being lost in a jumble of e-mail messages, I can’t really tell what you’ve tried so far.  So, I’m going to try and reset you to the beginning of the recovery path.  You should start by visiting, and follow the prompts from there.  It should offer you multiple options to recover your account credentials, including using your smartphone, using your current and any former e-mail addresses, and even having assistance requests go through Facebook friends that know how to contact you.

Above, I mentioned a trend toward requiring a third factor – something beyond a username and password – to validate your user account.  In the business, this is what’s known as multi-factor authentication, or MFA. The “factors” are typically something you have, such as a computer or smartphone that is already known to the service, something you know, such as a PIN or password, something you are, meaning a physical characteristic such as a fingerprint, facial scan, retina scan, etc., and finally, somewhere you are, meaning your location within a computer network, or your verified GPS coordinates.  There are other factors, some of which you may have encountered in your travels across the Internet.  As you can see, most of these are beyond your immediate control.  The sole exception is the PIN or password.  Remember to always select passwords that don’t contain personal information, are hard for anyone to guess, but which you can remember, and type-in the next time you’re asked for it.  Good luck to you!

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Geek Note: My question queue is running low again, so it’s time for me to bug you to send some in. After all, I can’t answer them if you don’t ask them!  So, if you’ve been living with an annoying problem on your computer, if you can’t figure out a feature of your high-tech product, if your Smart Home isn’t so smart, why not see if I can help?  Just head over to (not .com) register for your free account, then click on “Submit a question” in the menu.  You soon could be happier and more satisfied in your geeky, high-tech life!

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