If there’s something good that came from Facebook’s recent scandal of how your information is being stored and shared, it’s that you’re aware of it now.
Before we learned that Cambridge Analytica mined data from 50 million Facebook users, we all knew in the back of our mind what information we have stored on the social network. Now, it’s front-of-mind and it’s time to do something about it.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced they’ve changed how privacy settings shows up on our accounts. You can see its Data Policy here. In a nutshell, the privacy settings have been placed up front so they’re easier for users to find on their account. It’s simpler to understand and make changes as well. You may not see the changes right away because Facebook is rolling them out to users over the next few days and weeks.
If you have the new shortcuts they’ll show up in your settings tab. You’ll find them by clicking the down arrow next to the question mark at the top of your newsfeed and profile pages.
There are a few things you should check here:
First, look at the information Facebook has on you by clicking the “view data” button. You can review what data the network has stored and make changes. If you choose to delete everything, you might want to download it first, otherwise you won’t be able to see it when you’re looking for that Facebook memory or photo you shared.
Next, review the data Facebook shares with the third-party companies that place ads on your Facebook newsfeed. This is how Facebook makes much of its revenue by selling your data. This will include things you’ve liked on Facebook and links you may click. The companies use that data to display ads that are likely most interesting to you. If you delete the data you’ll still see ads but they probably won’t be of interest.
Then review your own privacy information regarding the things you post to Facebook. Some things you post are shared publicly, in fact unless you’ve changed that setting in the past you’re still sharing photos and posts to anyone on Facebook. People who do not have a Facebook account can even see those posts. Within this privacy setting you can choose to change the privacy settings for everything you’ve posted in the past and everything you post in the future unless you change the setting for individual posts.
While I’m at it, you might want to change the internet browser you use when browsing Facebook. Mozilla added a cool feature this week that allows users to put Facebook.com into its own special container. If you’re like most people you have several browser tabs open at the same time. When Facebook is opened in one of those browsers it is likely that the information you’re sharing on Facebook is going to another company through cookies it puts on your computer. Firefox prevents this from happening by keeping Facebook in a container so that it is not visible to any website or account you have opened at the same time.
By the way, if you haven’t used Firefox in a long time it’s worth checking out again. Most internet users are using the Chrome browser from Google. I’ve started using Firefox and have been pleasantly surprised at a ton of new features.
Facebook said the new privacy shortcuts have been planned for some time but you have to think the recent headlines may have sped up the timeline a bit.
Facebook has also recently turned off the feature that allowed your information to be shared through apps your friends use.