Published: 26th March 2018
What the F...acebook: 4 things you can do to feel safe on FB in a post-Cambridge Analytica world
Worried that your online shenanigans are out there? Or if your credit card details are with some crook. Fret not. Try these 4 things to feel a wee bit safer
If you’re freaked out about whether people will get to know your deepest, darkest social secrets after last week’s Cambridge Analytica revelation, here’s something that can help you stop panicking and get off the #DeleteFacebook train.
Well, we might never get to know who viewed our Facebook profiles or how many times (power to you pervs), but we finally know how Facebook uses the information we provide. Thanks to the Cambridge Analytica data breach, pretty much everybody in the world is now aware of how data is used and for what.
What does this breach mean for marketers though? Sorav Jain, a Chennai-based Digital Marketer says, “People should stop taking these stupid quizzes on Facebook that predicts your future or tells you which celebrity you look like. After this saga Facebook might restrict the reach of ads on a lot of personal information though.”
Pritish Soundararajan, a Hyderabad-based Facebook marketer says “The problem is Facebook’s core business model of collect, store, analyse and exploit. Facebook will come up with more products and companies and brands will continue using it. People should understand that they signed up for lack or less privacy long back.”
Hang on. What data of yours and mine are we talking about? Here’s a quick way to find out.
#1 Download your Facebook Data to know what they have on you
If you think back to the time you signed up on Facebook and all the information you provided, it starts there — your personal information including the place you live, your email address, phone number, age, gender, education, place of work, etc. Every activity you perform on Facebook from liking your friend’s goofy good morning post to those anti-national comments, every story you end up sharing and the ads you click on are meticulously recorded and archived by Facebook.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can access all this from your account.
- Click on the Settings tab on your Facebook account
- This will lead to General Account Settings
- Here, you can Download a copy of your Facebook data
- It will take you 30 minutes or more to download the data, which will display all your photos, messages, friends, contact info and your advertisement details in a zip file
- Open and take a look at your life on Facebook. Enjoy (Or be scandalised. Whichever!)
#2 Seeing familiar ads? Here’s why that’s happening
Nowadays it’s become quite tough to sift through what a genuine post is and what an ad is. Facebook’s AI and interface have become that good. Really.
But there’s still a way to figure out why you’re seeing certain ads. Click on Ads Topics and that will tell you how adverts on Facebook appear on your timeline — all those topics displayed are the various categories of advertisement buckets through which you are being targetted. When you click on an advert’s Why am I seeing this ad? button, it will display the demographics under which the ad is being shown to you.
#3 Control the ads you’re seeing. It’s pretty simple
Head to Ad Preferences under your settings and there you have it - the Facebook pages you have liked and interacted with, filed away under Interests ranging from News and Entertainment, Hobbies and Activities, Food, Technology, you name it, Facebook has it all.
Scroll below to Advertisers You’ve Interacted With and you can see how your contact information and “whose website or apps you’ve used” helped you interact with ads. You can change that right away by scrolling down and disabling both options.
Under Your Information you can see more unique ways Facebook has categorised all your activities, especially mobile users - from “Android: 360 degree media supported” to “People in India who prefer mid- and high-value goods.” Go ahead and remove the categories you are not comfortable with. You also have the Hide Ad Topics option further below.
#4 Stop giving more data to FarmVille and other Apps, Websites and Plug-ins
Those seemingly innocuous “Login using Facebook” apps and website are huge harvesters of your data. If you were one of those people who got annoyed by the barrage of invitations to play Texas HoldEm Poker or FarmVille and made every effort to stop those notifications by blocking both the app and the people who invited you, you have nothing to worry.
For those of you who did not, you probably did not know that those apps not only had access to your information but also lets you post to Facebook and had access to your friends’ list. You can control the same by disabling the options:
In Facebook’s words, this “Let’s you use apps, plug-ins, games and websites on Facebook and elsewhere.” Go right ahead and disable this too. “This means you can't use the Facebook integrations on third-party apps or websites. If you want to use these apps and websites with Facebook, turn Platform back on.”
These measures do not guarantee that all your information is wholly safe (that ship sailed when you decided to use Facebook, sorry folks) but it does mitigate the risks, and you get to decide how what you share gets used the way you would like to.