It was recently reported that private data belonging to 87 million Facebook users was gathered and sold for political gain by a data collection company called Cambridge Analytica. The breach has caused users to question the ethical standards of social media platforms like Facebook and wonder how they can prevent their private data from circulating among third-party companies without their permission.
Facebook has assured the public it is taking serious measures to prevent similar data breaches in the future. However, many users are protesting the social media site by threatening to #DeleteFacebook. And while it is understandable that people have lost trust in the platform, quitting Facebook altogether is much easier said than done. Luckily, there are numerous ways to alter your Facebook privacy settings to ensure your personal information is not accessed and shared to third-party applications. Below are a few steps to strengthen your profile’s security and maintain data privacy on Facebook.
Strengthen Your Personal Privacy
The first step in locking down your Facebook profile is to adjust the Privacy settings located under the Settings menu. Under the Privacy tab, you can choose who has the ability to see your future posts, send you friend requests, and view your email and phone information. Editing these options to “Friends” will ensure that only users you are already connected with can access this type of information. No new users will be able to search for you by using your personal contact information. Also, make sure to select “No” next to “Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?” This will ensure that your Facebook account does not appear in search engine results under your name.
These most secure Privacy settings look like this:
Under the Security and Login tab, you have the ability to see where your Facebook has been accessed and is currently logged in. By clicking on the three dots next to each login, you can choose to log out of that device.
If you believe your account was accessed without your permission or knowledge, you should apply extra security to your account by changing your password. Facebook provides an Account Security process to ensure your account is not improperly accessed in the future. You can access this by selecting “Not You?” and then following the “Secure Your Account” steps.
Limit Third-Party Data Collection
One thing that Facebook users may be unaware of is that many mobile apps, plug-ins, games, and websites require you to login with Facebook in order to access their program. You can view exactly which third-party websites and apps are collecting your information by selecting the Apps and Websites tab under Settings.
You can select the box next to each application and either remove it or edit the information it can access from your account. Be advised that by removing these third-party apps, you will no longer be able to sign into these apps or websites using your Facebook login credentials. You may want to consider creating new logins and passwords for each application before removing it entirely.
You can also choose to turn off the setting under Apps, Websites and Games that controls your ability to interact with these programs both on and off Facebook. Switching this setting to “Off” will disable your ability to share content from other apps and websites using Facebook social plugins, such as Share and Like. This setting can be turned back On at any point.
Limit Location Tracking
Another way to keep your data private is to disable Location Services on your smartphone to prevent Facebook from tracking your location. You can access this setting on an iPhone, by selecting Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Facebook and choose the Never option. Android users can access it through Settings > Apps & Notifications > App Permissions > Location Permissions > Facebook, and then sliding the bar to the Off position.
What About Ads?
One of the major sources of controversy is how paid Facebook ads use user data. Companies like Cambridge Analytica used personal information to target their ads based on what type of websites users have visited, types of ads they’ve interacted with in the past, and current interests. For the most part, companies are not using this information to be malicious, but to serve you advertisements that are relevant to your interests and lifestyle.
However, if you’d like to keep this information private from potential advertisers, you can do so by selecting the Ads tab under Settings and editing the information you wish to be available:
Access Your Data
If you’re curious to know what type of personal data is floating around out there, you can now easily access the information Facebook has compiled about you over the years. Simply navigate to your Settings, then select “Download a copy of your Facebook data” under General Account Settings. Facebook will then email you a link where you can download a ZIP file of all the data that Facebook has access to:
In this download, you’ll find a plethora of information, including photos and videos, messages exchanged in chats, posts, political views, contact information, and much more. For a full list of information you might find in your data download, check out this article.
What’s Next for Facebook
Facebook has risen as the most popular social media network in the past decade, with more than 2 billion users accessing the platform worldwide. Unfortunately, the recent data scandal has caused many users to lose trust with Facebook and delete their account for good. Co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for the breach and informed the public that Facebook is making drastic changes to its policy to prevent similar breaches in the future.
In the meantime, follow the tips listed above to keep your account and personal information as safe as possible. For additional information on how to protect your Facebook privacy, or general social media marketing inquiries, call Page 1 Solutions at 800-368-9910.