6 Tips to Keep Your Data Protected on Facebook

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Concerned over your privacy on the social media platform? Here are a few ways to safeguard your data.

Facebook has been in the hot seat over privacy issues as of late. With the revelation that information from millions of Facebook profiles has been unscrupulously harvested has left many wondering: what can be done to protect data on the social network?

Political Controversy

A voter-profiling company working for the incumbent U.S. president has been revealed to have harvested private information from 50 million Facebook profiles. The said company, Cambridge Analytica, got hold of such data through the thisisyourdigitallife app. An academic researcher at Cambridge University built the app and it paid Facebook users to take a personality test and agree to share pertinent data for academic use.

About 270,000 individuals participated in the study, which was enough to extract information from tens of millions of Facebook users. As it turns out, people who downloaded the app gave consent to have limited information collected about their friends whose privacy settings permitted it.

If you can’t find it in yourself to rally behind the #DeleteFacebook movement, there are effective ways to safeguard your data.

6 Ways to Protect Your Privacy on Facebook

Assess the privacy settings

Now may be a good time to check your privacy settings. If you are concerned about the details that unknown parties see from you (or Facebook pals), minimize the info you share publicly. Subsequently, you can edit your profile so only you can see your friends list or only friends can see your posts.

Get a tracker blocker

Some browsers add-ons block trackers, which are often embedded on websites. In fact, add-ons like Privacy Badger and Disconnect are few of the effective ones in blocking trackers on Google Chrome.

Why should anyone on FB bother installing blockers? Trackers covertly planted by some Facebook apps will track your every browser activity. Like a cookie, they collect information about you so even if you close an app, they can still know the other sites you visit or the friends you interact with on the social media platform. Tracker blockers keep such snoops from gathering any relevant information about you.

Clear browsing data

Once in a while, clear your browser’s cookies and browsing history. Do this often and you will not only clean digital clutter but also remove trackers.

Limit app permissions

Use Facebook to sign into third-party websites, apps, or games, and those services can continuously access your personal data. It’s a typical trade-off, but some may not be too comfortable sharing personal details to complete strangers. If you’re one of those, navigate to Facebook’s settings page.

Click on the Apps tab so you can see all the apps connected to your account.

Take a closer look at the permissions you have granted each app. Determine what and how much information you are sharing with them. Remove those apps that you find suspicious. On the Apps Settings page, go check another setting called Apps Others Use. It’s there where you can set what details can be shared about you when your friends use apps. Uncheck all the boxes if you don’t want any of your information (e.g. hometown, birthday, etc.) to be accessed by your friends’ apps.

Go over privacy policies

You’re shown the terms of service whenever you sign up for a new program, app, or Web tool. Make it a habit to read the terms and pay a little more attention to the privacy policy. Skip using a program when you see any text suggesting that your data can be shared in ways that you’re not comfortable with.

Install ad blockers

Online ads can sometimes wrap malware underneath their flashy appearance. The kind of malware they spread is one that harvests some of your data so you can’t take them lightly. For purposes of safety, get ad blockers e.g. uBlock Origin to prevent ads from loading altogether. You may install one on your desktop and mobile browser.

If you think this is unnecessary, keep in mind that even the largest websites don’t have tight control over ads shown on their domains. In some cases, malicious code may straight up appear in their ad networks without warning.

We all have to safeguard personal data on any social media platform, though it can be a hassle. You never know when data-harvesting programs will swoop in and use your data for questionable ends, after all.