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How to keep your data safe without leaving Facebook

Posted on March 21, 2018

 

It’s fair to say that this week has been a pretty disastrous one for Facebook. Following Channel 4’s suggestions of the role the social media site and British data firm Cambridge Analytica played in the U.S Presidential Election in 2016, the company’s stock price nosedived and its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned to appear before British MPs.

To make matters worse, yesterday saw #DeleteFacebook trend on Twitter among social media users unhappy at the way their data is being exploited and the role the site seemingly had in Donald Trump reaching the White House.

Data rows are nothing new in social media, but it appears that this particular episode has been the straw that broke the camel’s back for a number of users, who want to sever ties with the social media site immediately.

With many people’s relationship with social media being a little fractious at the moment, stories have sprung up here and there of bloggers and journalists either quitting social media or taking a break from it. Business Insider writer Emma Fierberg recently wrote about her month of social media hiatus, and reports that improved her productivity and wellbeing.

Is it necessary, though, to leave the site altogether and lose your account, together with the memories, posts, photographs and other content you’ve shared on it over the years?

Aside from anything else, parting ways with Facebook can be a messy divorce. As this Detroit News article points out, Facebook is intertwined with many apps and platforms, meaning they might either no longer work or require new passwords.

Also, for all the ire the company is currently attracting, it was only a little over six months ago that Facebook was named the world’s “most loved” brand.

Facebook has become a lot like BT. No matter who your telecommunications provider is, you always seem to need to liaise with BT if there’s a problem and wait for one of their engineers to turn up. You could also make comparisons to the BBC, with the TV Licensing fee meaning the Beeb significantly shapes and controls the medium of British television even if we barely watch BBC channels. Facebook is intrinsic to the internet, and has become the hub of social media whether we like it or not.

Rather than delete it, it may be better to simply increase your privacy settings. If you go to ‘Settings’ and then ‘Privacy’, you can make numerous changes to who can see your profile, posts and friends list. You can even choose to stop search engines displaying your profile should your name be searched for.

To stop your Facebook information going over to third party sites, go to ‘Settings’, then ‘Apps’, and select ‘Apps, Websites and Plug-Ins’. Disabling this will obviously limit your Facebook experience, but it will increase your data security.

These steps should be complemented by general social media prudence such as not accepting friend requests from people you don’t know, and being careful what you like and share.

Facebook certainly needs to regain our trust, but really the issue of data security is currently out of control and it’s to be hoped that the upcoming enforcement of GDPR will go some way to addressing this. For the time being, it may be better for us all to persevere with Facebook while always considering how we could be using it more responsibly.

John Murray
  • […] news, a recent expose by Channel 4 suggested that UK data firm Cambridge Analytica used an app to gather people’s data from Facebook and then used that data to sway their opinions in the US election. The firm has received a lot of […]

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