Updated 2019: How Facebook collects your data and 3 tips to regain control
Facebook. Love it or hate it, the social media giant isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And unfortunately, neither are the concerns about its users’ privacy. The Cambridge Analytica scandal opened the eyes of many to Facebook’s privacy secrets. As a result, more users are taking proactive measures to protect their privacy and data on social media.
Are you familiar with how Facebook tracks you as you post, comment, and engage on their platform? It can track your location. It knows when you’re logged on and how long each of your sessions last. If you’re open in your “About” section, Facebook also knows your religion, political views, sexual orientation, and more.
But did you also know that Facebook…
… knows who you are stalking online?
Facebook collects and permanently stores every search users make for another person on Facebook. So, on those nights that you find yourself creeping on your ex-girlfriend, new office crush, or that neighbor down the street that keeps playing their music too loud, Facebook knows what you’re up to.
… knows who you are calling?
If you have synched your contacts with Facebook on your Android phone, Zuckerberg can view your call logs and even your SMS log history.
… monitors the signals of your device?
This includes Bluetooth and any nearby Wi-Fi access points. If there are any cell towers nearby, these are monitored as well. Together, along with your tracked GPS-location, Facebook can accurately pinpoint your location at just about any given time.
Does your account show that you’ve been checked into restaurants or stores you’ve never been to? It’s not uncommon for Facebook accounts to be hacked. There are several signs to look for, all which are listed in this article.
… knows when you need to charge your phone?
Yes, Facebook knows when your battery is about to run out and when your device is fully charged. The same goes for your signal strength and available storage space.
…how many selfies you take in a day?
If you upload pictures to Facebook, the app has access to your entire camera library. While Facebook used to automatically upload your recent photos to the app in a private location, this feature was recently removed. However, any photos you do upload to Facebook automatically fall under a royalty-free worldwide license that allows Facebook to use your photos as they see fit.
Do you have your share of embarrassing photos on your Facebook account? Maybe you don’t mind giving your friends a few laughs with your latest pics, but you may want to keep them hidden from your new boss or potential future in-laws should they perform a Google search with your name. You can hide your Facebook profile from search engines in just a few steps. Learn more about the process in this article.
… probably knows more about your devices than you do?
Facebook gathers information on your operation system, what browsers and plugins you use, and even what documents you have lying around on your PC. The platform also knows the ID / serial number of your device.
… tracks your every mouse movement?
According to the company, this information helps the network to figure out if you are a robot or not. Another way it does that is by monitoring whether your browser window is in the foreground or background.
… knows where you’ve spent your money online?
Facebook knows when you shop on a page that allows you to “Login with Facebook” or includes a “Like” button. So, when you browse the latest selection of athletic shoes on a website with a “Like” button, you may notice ads for the company in your newsfeed.
If you start to notice a large number of strange ads for products you haven’t purchased online, your password may have been compromised. If you use your Facebook credentials to log into other sites, your finances and online reputation could be at stake. The good news is that you can make it more difficult for someone to hack into your account by taking a few security measures. Learn more about each step in this article.
… also knows where you’ve spent your money offline?
Stores love to gather information for marketing data but they sometimes share this information with Facebook. If information shared in a store you’ve shopped at links you to your Facebook account, the platform knows where you spend your time and money off the app as well.
If you feel violated, you’re not alone. While it was always assumed that Facebook was keeping tabs on us, the extremity is a bit unnerving to say the least. What’s even more concerning is that this is just what Facebook has chosen to disclose. Their greed for data could run deeper than we can comprehend.
While the best way to avoid being tracked is to stay off the platform entirely, there are some practical measures you can take to protect yourself when enjoying your time on social media.
How to Set Facebook Privacy Settings
When it comes to Facebook privacy settings, you have more control than you realize. Here are a few steps you can take to protect your privacy.
1) Stop Ads from “Like” Button Clicks
As mentioned, Facebook targets ads in your newsfeed based on companies and products you’ve engaged with online.
To turn this setting off from your computer, go to:
Settings > Ads > Ad Settings > Ads That Include Your Social Actions > No One
2) Limit Data Collected from Outside Parties
When you use the Facebook Login feature to sign into other websites and apps, you’re giving up more of your personal data. While the Cambridge Analytics scandal helped reduce information third parties could access, we still recommend protecting your personal information from other websites and apps logged into through Facebook.
From your computer, go to:
Settings > Apps and Websites > Active > Click on the box next to the app’s name > Remove
3) Turn Off Location Data
When you take a moment to check your Facebook newsfeed while grocery shopping or before an out of town conference, Facebook can collect data to create location-specific ads. While the app can use network connection data to pinpoint your location, you can prohibit location services within the app.
To change this setting from within the app, select the icon in the top right corner of the screen (it has three lines) and go to:
Settings & Privacy > Privacy Shortcuts > Manage your location settings > Location Access > Next to Background Location, switch the toggle to Off
At Avira, we’re committed to helping our clients stay safe online. While we tend to focus on invasive viruses and malicious hacker attacks, we also aim to educate our clients in safe social media practices. Download our eBook, A Guide to Privacy in the Era of Big Tech for more information on protecting your privacy online.
We also have a great YouTube video that will walk you through several steps you can take to stop Facebook from tracking your every move – take a look at it below!
For the latest in online privacy practices, be sure to follow our blog and social media profiles.