Facebook has all the photos you took on your girl's weekend at the beach. It's no surprise, because you sent them to your profile page. But Facebook has ways to get even more information about your trip.
The company is not just a social network. It is aand it follows you around the internet and in reality to find information that helps customize the ads it serves to you. Facebook can track websites you visited when planning your trip. It can gather customer information shared by partners, which may include the store where you purchased your sunscreen. And Facebook has similar information about all the friends who went on the trip, and it knows you were together because it has your location information.
Composite, it's more revealing than any swimsuit photo.
Facebook tracks you so much that it sometimes feels like the company is listening to your conversations. In fact, many believe that the social network listens to them via the microphone on their phone. Facebook has denied it, but it has not ceased this consistency theory. CNET conducted an informal test and did not find evidence suggesting.
Technical experts and confidential guard dogs agreeon you. But it should not give you comfort, they say, because Facebook's information gathering is much more effective than spying on your calls can ever be.
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You can't stop Facebook from collecting data about you, even if you disable or delete your account altogether. (With that said, deleting your account significantly reduces data collection.) The most you can do is limit what the social network gets. Here are some tips to keep your Facebook mittens off your info.
Step 1: Log in, click through, deselect
First, limit the information that Facebook uses to determine which ads it shows.
You want to enter your settings and then select "Ads" from the horizontal bar on the left. Then go to the "Your Ad Settings" section and click "Ad Settings".
Under "Ads based on data from partners" you can decide if you do not want to see ads based on data from companies that cooperate with Facebook. For example, Facebook says if you allow it to use this data, "You can see ads for hotel deals if you visit travel sites."
Next section is "Ads based on your business on Facebook business products that you see elsewhere." Here you can choose whether Facebook uses specific information about you to customize the ads you see on other websites. Yes, Facebook shows ads on pages outside Facebook. Think of ads you see when you do things like reading an article from your local newspaper or shopping on a store's website.
The Catch: Even if you opt out of everything, Facebook will still tailor ads with your gender, age, place and taste to people similar to you.
Step 2: Cut Out Third Party Programs
Last year, a whistleblower revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultation, abused data harvested from Facebook. The scandal revealed how much data Facebook transfers to third party companies and organizations.
Since the scandal, Facebook has changed the options for how third-party applications can use your data. So it's a good idea to have a look at your settings again if you haven't done so recently.
On the "Settings" page, select "Apps and Websites" from the left rail. At the top of the web page you will see a list of all the apps or websites that you logged in to use your Facebook account. Here you can remove specific third-party applications or restrict the information they can request.
Below is a section where you can pull out the big guns and cancel all access to your Facebook account from third-party applications. Under the "Settings" section you will find the "Apps, Websites and Games" section. Select "Edit" to turn off access to your account.
Catch: If you completely choose to link your Facebook account with third-party apps, you cannot sign in to these apps with your Facebook account or use Facebook's "similar" and "comment" features on third party websites.
Step 3: Use External Blocking Tool
You do not need to rely on Facebook settings to lock the information.to help your privacy to the next level.
Safari automatically blocks Facebook and any other third party service from using two types of web tracker on websites: third party cookies and browser fingerprints. It is important to check these trackers if you want to limit Facebook's ability to see you.
Third-party cookies allow Facebook to track your activity on any site that uses, shares, and comments on features. (If you want to use these features, Safari can let you activate them after asking for the first time.) Browser fingerprints allow Facebook to keep a continuous record of your activity even when you clear your cookies.
Similarly, Firefox offers an extension called Facebook Container, which separates your Facebook account from your business on third party websites. This means that Facebook only knows about your activity on other websites if you use the Facebook share button.
The Catch: Some of these features limit your use of Facebook tools on pages outside the social network. For example, Facebook Container disables Facebook-like and comments on third-party websites, and you cannot sign in to other services with your Facebook account.
Step 4: Keep the place under cover
You can limit how much Facebook knows about the people around you, whether they are friends, co-workers or strangers on the subway. The first thing to do is kill the app's access to location services on your phone. But it's not enough. Your IP address reveals your location on the websites you visit and the apps you use. Then hide it with a VPN.
A VPN is a service that tunnels your internet connection to another location before joining a site or app. In other words, you can be on a beach in Florida, but VPN can lead Facebook to think you're somewhere else – say London – based on the IP address it sees.
Be careful. You don't just want to choose any VPN. Make sure you choose one that has been exposed to privacy experts.
Catch: You will probably need to log in to Facebook and verify your identity more often if the social network thinks you are using a new IP address at all times. It can be difficult to use a VPN consistently, so you will probably not be able to hide your place all the time. Finally, the ads you see will be directed to people outside your location. Of course it is, isn't it?
Step 5: There is always more
You can also avoid installing the Facebook app on your phone, which means that Facebook does not add your contacts to the information it already has about you. If you continue down this road, it is a jump, skip and a jump to delete your Facebook account.
And we haven't even come into the effects of using other Facebook-owned services, like Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. You might consider ending up with them as well.
It won't stop other tech giants,and lesser-known ad networks from gathering similar information about you while browsing the internet. Facebook is just the most visible ad network, says David Choffnes, a computer science professor at the Northeast University studying apps and privacy.
"We do not realize how extensive the companies tracking our information online are" Choffnes said "and how they share our information with each other."