How to Protect Your Data on Facebook



The latest news surrounding social network security, in the midst of the Cambridge Analytica story, has alerted consumers to the fact that our data isn’t always as safe as we think it is. Unfortunately, controlling our data has become more complicated and our personal information is often made available to third parties without us realising, which was the case for millions of users in the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. In light of this, many people have opted to delete their online profiles altogether, with ‘#deleteFacebook’ trending last week. Understandably, this is not an option for everyone.

Every click, like, comment and message is stored by Facebook, which creates a very in-depth virtual log of our online habits. This log builds a profile of who we are, what we like, our behaviours and activity, which can then be used for targeted advertising and marketing. If this makes you feel unsettled, there are a few tips you can follow to tighten up on your data privacy without deleting your profile altogether.

Turn off location sharing

If you use apps on your smartphone – especially social media apps – you will most likely have your location sharing enabled.  This can allow apps to track where you go and what locations you visit to use this information for targeted marketing. You can turn off your location sharing within your smartphone’s settings.

Be aware of what is public

Within Facebook, you can change the privacy settings of each section of information, allowing you to toggle what anyone can see, what your friends can see, and what only you can see. To edit this, go to Settings > Timeline and Tagging > Review what other people see on your timeline. This will let you see what the public, or a certain person, can see on your profile. You can then adjust accordingly based on what you would like shared. For example, you might be happy to share your home town, but want to keep your marital status and workplace private. You can also change the privacy of your posts and photos to allow only friends to see them.

Download your data

You can also download your entire archive of data from Facebook, and it is relatively simple to do so. Go to Settings (right hand corner of your news feed) > Download a copy of your Facebook data. If you have held Facebook for a number of years, this may take a while to download, but it will allow you to see every piece of information Facebook has stored about you.

Review third-party apps

A third-party app was at the centre of the Cambridge Analytica data leak, meaning millions of users and their friends’ data were accessed. If you have had a Facebook account for a while, it is most likely that you have enabled a lot of apps through Facebook that you may have forgotten about or no longer use. From shopping apps to music apps, there may be a lot of information sharing enabled to these third parties. Facebook states:

“On Facebook, your name, profile picture, cover photo, gender, networks, username and user ID are always publicly available to both people and apps. Apps also have access to your friends list and any information that you choose to make public.”

To review and tidy up this information sharing within Facebook, go to Settings > Account Settings > Apps > and then review each section and app. You can remove apps you no longer use. Going forward, be careful what apps you use Facebook to login to and be mindful of what information you are making publically accessible to these third parties.

Adjust your advert settings

Advertisers use the information you provide Facebook, and your activity and behaviour log, for targeted marketing. However, you are in control of what they can use and how they can use it. To edit your advert settings in Facebook, go to Settings > Ads. From here you will be able to edit what information advertisers can target you on, such as your education, job title and relationship status.

What does this mean for businesses?

The news around data privacy does have implications for businesses too. As consumers become increasingly aware of what happens to the data they provide online, businesses may be faced with a challenge when it comes to targeting their audiences. Consumers may be more cautious over what data they provide, which could restrict targeting effectiveness for brands. This recent news surrounding Facebook privacy along with the incoming GDPR in May has created a dialogue around data privacy, which brands will need to keep a close eye on. Advertisers may therefore eventually explore other options and platforms to reach their audience.

Talk to us if you are concerned about Cyber Security

If you have any concerns, you can arrange a meeting with Blue Rock, which is our cyber security and data protection consultancy.  Use the contact form below to get in touch, or else send send an e-mail to Lorraine Mills at Blue Rock.