In case you haven’t heard, Facebook is in some hot water currently. Why? Because its use of users’ personal data has been called into question, resulting in Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before Congress earlier this month. Here’s a little bit of backstory on what is now being referred to as the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Cambridge Analytica is a political data firm that was hired by the Trump campaign to collect data on Facebook users and then target them with digital advertisements. According to the New York Times, the data “included details on users’ identities, friend networks, and ‘likes.’” Cambridge Analytica, along with a psychology professor from Cambridge University, developed a personality survey and an app that ultimately harvested psychographic information from over 50 million Facebook users.
The app told users it was collecting data for academic purposes, but instead, it was turned over to Cambridge Analytica for political purposes. Eventually, Facebook found out about this violation of its terms and subsequently removed the app from Facebook and demanded all data be destroyed.
Fast-forward to three years later. It turns out that not all of that data had been deleted — resulting in Facebook hiring an investigation firm to check things out. To read more about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, read the full New York Times article.
How to Protect Your Privacy on Facebook
If the thought of your personal psychographic and behavioral information being shared with advertisers is disturbing to you, there are a few moves you can make to help protect your privacy on Facebook.
1. Turn off Location Services on your phone.
Facebook is capable of sharing your location information with advertisers. To keep your location private, you’ll want to turn off Location Services on your phone. To do this, go to your phone’s Settings application, scroll down to Privacy, then to Location Services, and toggle it off.
2. Edit the “About Me” section on your profile to remove personal information you don’t wish to share with advertisers.
To do this, look in the upper right corner of Facebook on your desktop and click the question mark icon. Next, click on Privacy Checkup. Click on the section for your About Page. Here, you can edit or remove personal information you’ve shared with Facebook in the past, like your education level or relationship status.
3. Disable third-party apps linked to your account.
That app that you gave permission to access your Facebook data so you could take a quiz to find out what type of cheese you are? Yeah, it could be collecting your psychographic information. Here’s how to disable these apps: go to your Facebook settings, and then the Apps section. This allows you to see all the apps you are logged into through Facebook. Next, go to Apps, Websites, and Plugins > Edit, and turn off third-party API access. You can also go one-by-one and manually disable access from certain apps if you want to keep a few intact.
Keeping Your Personal Information Protected
Above are just a few simple steps to limit the way Facebook handles your data. Of course, if this stuff really freaks you out, here’s how to deactivate your Facebook profile.
Do you have any Facebook privacy tips to share that we didn’t mention? Tell us about them in the comments!