Cambridge Analytica, a data analytic firm used by the current US President Donald Trump for his campaign during the 2016 US election for running ad campaigns on Facebook misused the user data of more than 50 million Facebook users. This data was mined, sorted and provided by a behavior research firm Strategic Communication Laboratories(SCL) which violated Facebook’s ToS by gathering the said data from various frowned upon and illegal means from Facebook one of which was by creating an app called ‘thisisyourdigitallife‘ under the disguise of a harmless personality test app.
This data was not collected with the user consent to be used for this intent. With this discovery, Facebook removed the app and asked the information be destroyed to which SCL / Cambridge Analytica agreed upon but The New York Times reports that copies of the harvested data could still be found online which leads them to believe that they could still possess a copy of the raw data.
Facebook has hired a digital forensics team today to investigate further and has now not only suspended the app but also the accounts & pages of Cambridge Analytica and Strategic Communication Laboratories but this fallout reveals that the damage is already done and Facebook’s stance towards user data seems to be very weak which lead to a widespread condemnation from politicians to tech critics.
Even Facebook owned WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton joined the protest #deletefacebook.
It is time. #deletefacebook
— Brian Acton (@brianacton) March 20, 2018
Brian Acton left Facebook this year to start his own foundation and teamed up to support rival Signal foundation to bring true end-to-end encryption chat to users.
We just want to take this opportunity to remind people how to curb your online presence on Facebook. The best way is to delete your Facebook account. Yes, leaving the world’s most popular social media network isn’t a crazy idea anymore. But don’t just go to your settings page and delete your account yet (spoiler : you can’t find that setting).
If you don’t fancy deleting your Facebook account there are other ways to take control of your data, protect your privacy and still keep using Facebook without compromising your personal data.
Don’t worry we not the moral police, we are not trying to stop you from over-sharing or lecture you about the morality of your posts. What you share with your friends is your choice but what you do not share that gets collected via means you aren’t aware is the thing we intent to help you stop or at least control.
But first lets learn the most drastic method, deleting your Facebook account.
If you do not want to delete your Facebook account, you can skip this part.
GOODBYE FACEBOOK! SAY IT LOUD!
With so many years of usage, you must have a lot of information on Facebook. Your posts, pictures, facial recognition data, ads data (displayed to you and clicked by you), chat history, login sessions (active and old), IP addresses, devices connected to etc. The list of data Facebook holds on you is very long, personal, important so should first be securely downloaded.
Luckily all this is archived very well by Facebook and can be easily downloaded as an archive.
Go to Settings > Click General Account Settings > Click Start My Archive.
It will ask you to authenticate this process via an email, after that you will be provided a link to download all your data.
If you have every purchased anything on Facebook, you will have your credit card information stored. You can delete it by going to Settings > Payments.
If you are still unsure and want time to think you can deactivate your Facebook account for now. This will make your Facebook account offline but will not delete it. This can easily be achieved by going to Settings > General > Manage your account > Deactivate your Account.
Facebook will ask you why you want to deactivate and try to convince you not to do it but don’t fall for it. Deactivate your account right away. By deactivating your account goes in a hiatus mode but as soon as you login again it will reactivate it, everything from your profile restored to the state you left.
But if you are really brave and ready to delete your account you will be surprised to know Facebook doesn’t have the option of deleting your own account anywhere in the Settings Menu, in fact it actually is impossible to find the link to delete your account. So here is the link which will take you to the account deletion page.
But wait! Before deleting your account make sure you delete all the profile information from your account. Delete all the photos, posts, your personal info including your phone number. All this data is in the archive you just downloaded so don’t worry about that. This step makes sure that you certainly removed all your personal data from Facebook so it can’t be misused anywhere anyhow.
Once you click ‘Delete My Account‘ your account will be marked for termination, and your profile will be inaccessible to others. This process takes anywhere between 2 to 90 days.
Note : If you log back into your Facebook during this time, your deletion request will be canceled. So its better not to sign in ever again.
Despite deletion, Facebook says some of user data will still be with Facebook. Comments made from your account to your friend’s posts will not be deleted, log records will remain in the database but not associated to you.
If ex-Facebook employee and the co-founder of WhatsApp himself approves this, you should not think twice about this.
But don’t want to delete your Facebook account yet want some security?
Here are some steps to protect your data and privacy, the below suggested steps are tried and tested from the desktop website and frankly it is far more easy to do on desktop than on mobile.
UNLINK THIRD PARTY-APPS
REMOVE & LIMIT PERSONAL INFORMATION SHARE SETTINGS
Click the ? Mark icon of the page and click ‘Privacy Checkup‘. On Step two you will find the About Page where you can edit or delete the type of information you’ve shared on Facebook from school to work and your personal information like email and phone numbers. If you don’t want to delete it make sure you check and limit its visibility to limited people you want to share with.
RESTRICT AD PREFERENCES
You can go the Ad Preferences page here and change the settings as per your liking. Make sure you read it carefully, the preferences lets your choose settings in way that advertisers cannot run ads based on your profile information. You can dislike all the pages you had previously liked this way the information of the liked page cannot be used for advertising purposes
TURN OFF LOCATION SERVICES & LIMIT LOCATION DATA
In Android, you can turn off Location settings completely by going to Settings > Location and turn it OFF or see which apps had location access recently. And to limit location data to specific app you can go to Settings > Apps > Facebook > Permissions > Toggle Location OFF.