Convenience vs. privacy: the Facebook situation
Here are 4 tips to protect your data from being shared on Facebook.
Everyone’s favorite social media site is currently the subject of hot debate, and we’re here to keep you grounded amidst the madness. First, let’s talk about what happened. Back in 2014, a quiz made the rounds on Facebook. 270,000 users took the quiz, which harvested data not just about them, but also their friends. As a result, the quiz aggregated the private info of 50 million Facebook users. All that data was then allegedly sold to the Trump presidential campaign.
Was that illegal? Possibly. Was your own data compromised? Possibly. Do you need to join the panicking mob and #deletefacebook from your life? That’s probably more of a personal question, but answering from a sheer security perspective, no, you do not.
Facebook has come to define a new age of communication and staying in touch. You should feel free to continue using it, but take a moment to safeguard your privacy. The tools are there. Because many may not take the time to tinker under the hood of their account, we’ll point out some of the bigger privacy controls at your disposal.
1. Remove old Facebook apps
Odds are, you’ve accumulated a load of apps over the years, many of which you’ve probably forgotten about. Lose the dead weight. Get rid of all the apps you don’t use anymore and especially those you don’t recognize. Here’s how:
- Log into your Facebook account
- From the dropdown menu in the upper right corner, select Settings
- From the left margin, select Apps
- Hover over every app you want to delete, and tap the X
2. Turn the platform off
Yes, it can be convenient to use your Facebook login credentials across multiple websites, but this is a great security risk. (Remember, you want to use different usernames and passwords for every account you have.) Using one account across so many sites gives anyone who hacks into that account a full detailed profile of who you are. If you choose to go this route, remember you will no longer be able to login using your Facebook credentials anymore for other sites. To turn off the Facebook platform, go to the Apps page described above, and follow these steps:
- Under Apps, Websites and Plugins, tap Edit
- Tap Disable Platform
3. Control what others can access of yours
If your info is visible to others on Facebook, they can share that info in other apps, games, and websites. There are over a dozen categories of your personal info that can be shared (bio, birthday, location, interests, etc.), but you have the ability to keep that data from being spread. Once again on the Apps page, follow this direction:
- Under Apps Others Use, tap Edit
- Uncheck all the categories you do not want shared with other apps and sites (If you are reading this, you probably want to deselect all…but it’s completely up to you.)
4. Beware of surveys and quizzes
Remember, when you complete a survey or quiz from your Facebook account, you’re opening a doorway between the company who created it and all the data in your profile. While you’re taking that survey, the company has temporary access to all your information. Sure, it can be fun to learn which Hogwarts house would be yours, but at the cost of privacy, it’s probably best to avoid the clickbait.
As always, stay mindful of what you share and what you accept on Facebook. There’s no reason you can’t benefit from the networking and connection tool it is — just use the protection tools that are already available. You can clamp down on your privacy, and still find that there’s a lot about Facebook to “like.”