4 Ways to Better Protect Your Personal Data on Facebook

Facebook announced today that a security flaw allowed hackers to potentially control up to 50 million accounts. Here's how to protect yours.

4 Ways to Better Protect Your Personal Data on Facebook Photo by Twin Design / Shutterstock.com

The seemingly unending parade of Facebook privacy scandals continued today, with the announcement that the company uncovered a security issue that opened the door to the hacking of up to 50 million accounts.

If this latest breach worries you, take matters into your own hands. 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 the wrong people.

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 previously has noted.

Short of deleting your account altogether, 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.

As a bonus, deleting the app can boost your smartphone’s battery life.

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 has 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. Then, 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 latest Facebook scandal? Sound off below or on our Facebook page. (Just make sure to change your privacy settings first!)

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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