Facebook continues to dominate the news headlines and none of it is doing their share price any good. There were the 50 million Facebook profiles gathered for Cambridge Analytica and used in the 2016 presidential election. And within the Facebook iOS app, the company pushes the Onavo Protect VPN, an app made by a subsidiary that collects all your mobile data traffic for Facebook.
It’s because of this that many people are encouraging Facebook users to delete their accounts. That even includes the billionaire co-founder of the WhatsApp messaging service, which Facebook bought in 2014. If you’re done with Facebook, you can to deactivate or even delete your account. Facebook provides instructions for both. Deactivating your account makes you invisible on Facebook, whereas deleting your account may eventually result in most of the data being removed.
The problem is that Facebook is useful.
It may be the only connection you have with certain friends or family members. Many informal groups use Facebook for meetup logistics or for sharing information in their community. For many of us, giving up Facebook would be an inconvenience. Plus, lots of companies, including ourselves, have Facebook pages. Taking down our company page might result in a loss of business from customers who might find us there.
If you’re a business, you can probably keep your Facebook page but avoid relying on it. Earlier in 2018, Facebook announced that it would be prioritising posts from friends and family over public content. In other words, deprecating business-related posts. Most businesses will already have a good website, just ensure that customers can easily contact you through it.
On a personal level, there are two ways to think about privacy on Facebook. Limit the information you share with other people. And limit the information that you’re willing to give to Facebook. If Facebook doesn’t have certain data about you, they can’t use it in ways you don’t want.
Control who sees what you share
Start by clicking the ? button on the Facebook website on your Mac. Or tap the hamburger button in the bottom right-hand corner of the Facebook iOS app and tap Privacy Shortcuts. Then click or tap Privacy Checkup and run through the steps to make sure you’re sharing the right info with the right people. Be sure to lock down or remove any apps that you don’t need since they can potentially leak all sorts of data.
Also, go to Facebook’s Privacy Settings & Tools page. Click the Edit button next to each item, and make it as specific as you can. You also might want to review the posts you’re tagged in and remove those that you don’t want on your timeline.
Prevent Facebook from seeing your contacts
But what if you don’t want to give information to Facebook for it to use? Go to Facebook’s page for Uploading and Managing Your Contacts, and delete them all. You’re just giving away your contacts’ personal information without their permission otherwise.
To ensure that contact uploading doesn’t happen again, in the Facebook iOS app, tap the hamburger button, scroll to the bottom, and then tap Settings & Privacy> Account Settings > General > Upload Contacts and make sure the switch is off. (Some versions of the Facebook app just have Settings, not Settings & Privacy, and show a popover for Account Settings.)
Also, in the iPhone Facebook app, tap the hamburger button again and then Settings & Privacy > Account Settings > Location > Location, and make sure it’s set to Never. Also, keep Location History off, unless you want Facebook to know everywhere you’ve ever been.
If you’re concerned about the way the iOS app is trying to capture your contacts and locations, you could delete it from your iOS devices. You could still use the Facebook Web site, which can’t access nearly as much information.
Always assume that anything you post to Facebook or allow Facebook to have access to could end up in the public domain. Nothing on Facebook is ever completely private. And the best way to ensure confidential information doesn’t leak inadvertently is to avoid posting it to Facebook in the first place.