Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
You (and most people you know) are likely among the 2.19 billion worldwide individuals who use Facebook. But do you ever wonder just how much information you’re handing over to the social networking giant, simply by having an active profile?
This year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal has brought a renewed awareness of just how much personal data we are giving Facebook every day. In fact, Facebook probably knows a lot more about you than you think.
As you might imagine, advertisers and third-party app developers pay Facebook a lot of money to share your personal demographic information for marketing purposes. Here are just a few of the various types of user data Facebook collects, stores, and uses:
- Basic profile information, such as your name, gender, date of birth and location
- Job title and employers
- Education history
- Relationship status and gender(s) you’re “interested in”
- Political and religious views
- Interests based on pages you “like” and ads you’ve clicked on
- Companies, websites, and apps you’ve interacted with
- Advertisers who have added you to their contact list
- Demographic “categories” you belong to based on recent travel, purchases and activity
What Can I Do To Protect My Facebook Data?
If you’re worried about what information Facebook is storing and how the site is using your personal data, there are a few key settings and permissions you can adjust to ensure the most privacy possible.
According to Komando, it’s simple to find out what Facebook really knows about you. First, you should visit your Ad Preferences page (accessible from within your Facebook settings) to see – and turn off – the specific profile information and activity Facebook is sharing with advertisers. You can use this page to learn more about how Facebook ads work and limit the ads you see, and how often you see them.
You should also investigate the Apps and Websites page. Revoke access to any login sessions you don’t recognize, such as a one-time login from a different device, as well as third-party applications you are not actively using.
Finally, you can conduct a privacy checkup on your profile and make sure all your content is set to be viewed by “Friends Only,” or even just certain groups of friends. Facebook allows for very granular control over every current and past post, so take full advantage of these settings to customize your audience.
Aside from tightening up your privacy and ad settings, it’s also a good idea to self-censor on social media. Be very aware of what you’re posting and what it reveals about you. Remember, even if you block a certain user from seeing your content, someone who does have access can still take a screenshot and send it to them.
If you want to definitively stop Facebook from collecting your personal information, you can always deactivate your account. However, if that seems too drastic a measure, try the above tips to prevent your data from falling into the wrong hands as you’re using the site.