The most popular social network in the world – 2.5 billion people use at least one of Facebook’s apps – doesn’t charge for its digital products and services. The company’s seemingly unprofitable business model should be a reminder to us all that when we’re not paying, we are the product.
How else would Zuckerberg be worth $68.9 billion?
Facebook built an empire on its users’ data, and that’s no longer a secret.
After last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, it has become painfully obvious just how much data the company harvests and sells to its partners. It knows not only where you were and what you were doing last summer, but also what you were wearing, eating, buying, and listening to.
And there are other startling facts about Facebook’s data mining, like:
- Facebook tracks your online behavior on other websites.
- Facebook is showing you ads outside of Facebook.
- Facebook may be listening to your conversations.
- Facebook keeps collecting your data after you delete your account.
You can hardly stop the network from spying on you, but you can do a bit here and there to limit how much Facebook knows about you and in which way the company uses your data. These are the five tricks that can give you better control over your data privacy on Facebook.
Set Up Your Facebook “Ad Preferences”
Do you know how Facebook knows exactly what ad to show you?
This is because the company holds an extensive record on you as a consumer and feeds your ad preferences with the data it collects both on- and off-site. As a result, you’re seeing highly targeted ads for products and services you’re very interested in spending your money on.
At first, this may seem convenient. After a while, it starts feeling like an intrusion of privacy (which is exactly what it is). Facebook will keep showing you ads no matter what, but you can at least make them less creepy and frustrating by setting up your “Ad Preferences” in “Settings.”
Navigate to “Ads,” choose “Your Ad Preferences,” and then click on “Ad Settings.”
To stop Facebook from showing you ads based on your off-site activity, opt out of “Ads Based on Data from Partners.” To stop Facebook from showing you ads on other sites, opt out of “Ads Based on Your Activity on Facebook Company Products That You See Elsewhere.”
Stop Facebook from Sharing Your Data
Can you remember how many times you’ve used your Facebook login credentials to access a random website? These are all Facebook’s partners, which means that the company shares your data with them. Here’s what you need to do to cut them off from your Facebook account:
Navigate to “Settings” and then go to “Apps and Websites.”
You’ll see a list of all apps and websites you’ve accessed via Facebook. Comb through them carefully and opt out of every third-party app you no longer use or website you didn’t visit in a while. This will stop them from exchanging your information and showing you personalized ads.
Block Facebook’s Many Data Crawlers
Facebook’s data crawlers monitor your online activity outside of Facebook by leeching on to your browser’s third-party cookies and browser fingerprinting. If you don’t limit their access, they’ll follow you everywhere. Luckily, there’s a way to prevent them from snooping around.
A lot of popular browsers offer add-ons and tools for blocking Facebook’s data trackers.
This is a very effective method when it comes to keeping your online data a bit more private, though it may hamper with some of your browsing habits. For instance, a lot of these tools will forbid you from accessing and interacting with other websites via your Facebook account.
Start Browsing the Internet Anonymously
You are probably familiar with the fact that a VPN goes hand in hand with streaming. Although, virtual private networks are useful in a number of scenarios other than watching geo-blocked sports events and TV shows. A VPN is a brilliant tool against digital spying as well since it hides your IP address and encrypts your online data traffic, thus rendering you invisible.
If you don’t want anyone accessing your browsing history – Facebook, Google, your government, and ISP included – then you should start browsing anonymously. Using a VPN will keep you protected from cybercriminals, too, as well as allow you to access geo-blocked content.
Limit Your Time on Facebook’s Network
Facebook’s network is much bigger than the homonymous social media site.
It includes at least three other highly used services – namely Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp – and everything that applies to Facebook applies to these websites and their apps. If you can’t delete your Facebooks accounts, then at least limit how much time you’re spending on them.
In addition to these data privacy tricks, abstinence is the best strategy.
In other words – the less you’re on Facebook, the less Facebook has on you.