How to protect your Facebook data

Greg Bortkiewicz, SAE and Digital Specialist at LCIBy Greg Bortkiewicz, Senior Account Executive & Digital Specialist

Ever since the undercover investigation by Channel 4 exposed Cambridge Analytica, Facebook has been in hot water with governments and the public. Although Mark Zuckerberg (eventually) apologized and promised to strengthen the organization’s data privacy efforts, many remain concerned about how their online data would be used. There are several ways you can protect your own data. Here are three:

Manage App Access

The app management section in Facebook settings

Cambridge Analytica accumulated so much personal data through the popularity of quiz apps. Since users of such apps agree to share their personal data before engagement, the firm knew they could exploit this vulnerability.

Manage your apps by clicking the ‘Apps’ tab in the settings menu. A list highlights of all the apps you have logged into with Facebook. Click each of them to manage what data you’re allowing access to. You can also remove apps altogether which don’t immediately appear familiar to you.

Alternatively, you can choose to disable the app platform entirely. This can be tricky, however, if you’ve ever signed up for something via your Facebook account because it’s now all tied in with the app. I suggest transferring any of these accounts to an email log-in instead and refrain from using your Facebook account to sign up for new platforms in future.

Targeted Ads

The ad preferences section in Facebook settings

Have you have ever been surprised by an eerily targeted advert on Facebook? There is a solution: check out a dashboard of your preferences under the ‘Ads’ tab. Anything you’ve entered into your Facebook profile, from ads you’ve clicked on to pages you’ve interacted with, is all used by advertisers to target you.

Consider purging your Facebook profile if you don’t want your interests to be shared far and wide with ad agencies. In ‘Your information,’ you can choose what to share with advertisers, as well as all of the groups Facebook has put you into. This includes age range, gender, what mobile device you use and many more. You can remove yourself from all these groups.


The Facebook settings menu

Deleting your Facebook account completely is the best way to protect your data. #DeleteFacebook was trending in the immediate aftermath of the Channel 4 reports as people lost faith in the site. This bold step may be easier said than done, but if you want to do it, Facebook has instructions here. Your account will permanently disappear, then it will take Facebook up to 90 days to remove all your data.

It’s a good idea to download your data first if you decide to delete your account. This option is available in the settings menu and gives and long (and scary) list of everything available for download.

Do you think this scandal marks the beginning of the end for Facebook? Let me know on Twitter @greg_borko or leave a comment below.

7 thoughts on “How to protect your Facebook data

  1. Greg, thanks for this post and for showing me how to adjust my Facebook settings more to my liking. Always good to have a watchful eye on anything with your personal profile attached to it.

  2. Greg, thanks for the great tips. Security is paramount especially in today’s times and everyone needs to take personal responsibility for it.

  3. Thanks, Greg – I implemented your suggestions and now feel a little more invisible. Can you see me? I’m over here!

  4. Great advice, Greg. For better or worse, I don’t this marks an irrevocable downturn for FB. As I’ve seen friends debate whether or not to #DeleteFacebook, it appears folks deeply value the connectivity it provides. I am surprised, however, by how I unskeptical my friends have been of their own vulnerability. As professional marketers, perhaps we have a duty to help those we know understand just how this world works!

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