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Facebook’s latest privacy scandal is still an unfolding story, but you don’t have to wait to protect your personal data.
You can limit the amount of information you share — wittingly or unwittingly — with the social media giant. And that will in turn put a lid on how much of your Facebook data might end up in the hands of third parties — like Cambridge Analytica.
That’s the voter-profiling company accused of harvesting private information from some 50 million Facebook user profiles without consent — and using that data to aid Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
As the watchdog nonprofit Consumer Reports summarizes the situation in its petition calling for Facebook to notify affected users:
“As many as 50 million Facebook users had their social media data swept up in a massive data grab by a private app developer. Facebook users taking a simple psychology quiz may have unknowingly given away private information from their friends. Then the creator of the quiz sold that data treasure trove to a political targeting firm involved in the 2016 elections.”
The only way to stop Facebook from collecting additional information on you is to delete your account. Facebook keeps a log of every action you’ve ever taken on the social media network, as The Next Web detailed recently.
Short of deleting your account, consider taking the following steps to limit how much information you give Facebook. These four steps should take just a few minutes of your time.
1. Delete the Facebook app from your phone
By allowing the app onto your phone, you also allow Facebook access to information that’s on your phone — information it wouldn’t otherwise have.
Your contact list is one example. The Next Web explains:
“When you install Facebook’s app on your phone, you give it the right to see your contact list. Once that’s done, Facebook keeps ALL your contacts information forever.”
That information includes “the phone numbers, emails & addresses of everyone you know (or knew),” according to The Next Web.
2. Turn off Location Services
If you’re unwilling to delete the Facebook app from your phone, at least turn off what Facebook calls “Location Services.” That way, Facebook gets less location data on you.
In an article that also includes directions for disabling Location Services on Apple and Android mobile devices, The Verge explains:
“Location data is among the most sensitive data you can grant to a third-party app or service. With location data, companies know where you’re going, where you came from, and can even glean insights from your daily travels like where you live and work and what restaurants and other businesses you frequent.”
3. Don’t give other apps access to your Facebook account
If you’ve already enabled an app — such as a game or a retailer’s app — to connect to your Facebook account, you can disable it. Quartz recently published detailed step-by-step instructions with screenshots that I recommend.
If you’re unsure whether you’ve given apps access to your Facebook account, you can also follow Quartz’s directions to find out.
4. Review your other Facebook settings
While you’re logged in to your Facebook account, explore the “Settings” menu.
Select every item in the menu — from “Privacy” to “Ads” — and read the descriptions of the available options and update your settings where possible to limit the info you put out there, and the extent to which you authorize Facebook to share it with others.
What’s your take on the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica saga? Sound off below or on our Facebook page. (Just make sure to change your privacy settings first!)