There’s a lot of controversy surrounding Facebook right now. Here are steps you can take to limit access to your personal information.
Limit the Information YOU Provide
Guess who filled out the “About” section on your profile? You did. Facebook makes it easily to voluntarily divulge details about your life, such as where you live, but you don’t have to.
The only required piece of information is your name and email address. So why go beyond that and tell Facebook your life history?
Uninstall the App
When you install an app and give it permissions, it has access to a lot more than you realize. For example, let’s look at the all-too-common storage permission (shown below). You’ve probably encountered this in any app that lets you save or share photos.
However, there’s nothing stopping an app from grabbing anything you’ve saved on your device, behind your back, and sending it to their server without your permission. Keep that in mind when giving out this permission. Why would a calculator app need access to your phone’s storage?
Now back to Facebook — you can avoid this level of access by revoking the permission or by uninstalling the app. Some phones come with Facebook pre-installed and you can only disable it, rather than remove it.
Use the Mobile Site Instead
If you use the mobile site on your device, it looks almost exactly like the app, but without unfettered access to your phone. You can even make a shortcut on your home screen that looks just like the app’s icon. Check out the video below for steps on Android.
The rumors are true– Facebook can track you even on other websites. To limit Facebook’s reach, you can log out every time you leave the site. Facebook will still track you as an anonymous user, but not as “your” user account that you sign in with.
If you’re using the mobile site instead of the app, as explained above, don’t forget to log out of the mobile site too.
Wipe Your Computer Clean
Relax, I’m not telling you to throw the whole computer away. You could, however, give yourself something close to a clean slate. Here’s how:
- Wipe your web browser’s cookies. This is usually done by clearing the history.
- From this point forward, only use Facebook in a private mode tab (e.g. InPrivate, Incognito, etc.)
This isolates Facebook in a box where information from the site doesn’t spread to your other open tabs while you browse the web. This includes links that you click on from Facebook itself, which happens more often than you realize.
I’ve provided this information to the best of my knowledge. I’m an app developer with a degree in Information Security. I’ll be honest though, I feel Facebook is demonized a lot more than it deserves. As someone who has had to advertise, Facebook is actually a very useful way to reach the people who will care about my ad the most.
We’ve all been on the receiving end of completely irrelevant ads (like women getting erectile dysfunction spam). So let’s acknowledge that accurate, targeted ads can be beneficial to both the sender and the recipient. There’s been plenty of times I learned about a sale by a store I like, or a local event that I would have never heard of, because of effective advertising.
Therefore consider the benefits and the downsides, and make your own choice instead of simply jumping on the anti-Facebook bandwagon.