How To

How to stop Facebook from sharing your data

Chris Roper


Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony was a joy to watch. Whether it was the naivete of senators’ questions, or the Facebook creator squirming under oath, you can’t deny it was great TV.

Zuckerberg was testifying as part of a scandal involving data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica. The London-based firm harvested up to 87 million Facebook users’ personal data, and then sold it to politicians to influence voters in U.S. elections.

Although Facebook admitted their error, Zuckerberg’s apology rings false. Facebook’s business model is based on targeted advertising, so it knows how easy it is to use personal data to manipulate and influence people. In other words, Mark should’ve known better. 

So I’m going to step in and do Mark’s job for him. Here’s our list of tips to prevent Facebook from sharing data about you. (You can send my  $1M check in the mail, Mark.)

Log out of Facebook when you’re not using it

When you’re logged in but browsing other sites, Facebook can track you, so the safest bet is to log out every time you’ve finished using the app.

Settings Log out

Don’t use Facebook to log into other apps and services

From Facebook Settings, you’ll see an option on the left sidebar for Apps and websites. Click this, and you’ll see all the apps and websites you’ve allowed to use your Facebook data.

You can view and change what you share with these apps and websites individually, but if I were you, I’d remove sharing altogether. To do this, head to Apps, websites and games > edit > Turn off.

This might delete log-ins for apps you sign into using Facebook, so don’t be surprised if you have to start using an email address next time you sign into Spotify, for example. Better that than having your data used against you.

Stop search engines from linking to your profile

If you don’t want to be found through internet searches, you’d better turn this feature off, too. This allows search engines to link directly to your Facebook profile whenever someone searches for you by name.

Settings > Privacy > Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile? > Edit > No

Stop Facebook from recognizing you in photos

You might find this handy when tagging lots of people in photo albums, but to us, it’s a bit creepy. You wouldn’t tell your boss you were partying all night before work, so why risk Facebook revealing it all with unfortunate tag of you knocking back tequila at the bar?

Settings > Face recognition > Do you want Facebook to be able to recognize you in photos and videos? > Edit > No

Use Mozilla’s Facebook Container extension (or another tracker blocker)

Now Firefox Quantum is here, Chrome has a fight on its hands. It’s blisteringly fast, contains a native screenshot tool, and uses less power (and battery life).

Even better, the Facebook Container extension ring-fences your Facebook activity so nothing gets out. If you’d rather stick with Chrome, you can try tracker blockers like Ghostery or Privacy Badger which do a similar thing.

Don’t share your data for ad purposes

You might be surprised by how much of your information Facebook uses to show you ads. Some people like relevance, but others think it’s manipulation. Either way, you can change the settings to a level you’re comfortable with.

First, remove or change your Facebook interests. You can see an example ad each interest generates, so maybe try that first to see if you’re happy.

Settings > Ads > Your interests

Then review which elements of your Facebook profile you want ads to target.

Settings > Ads > Your information > toggle off or on

Finally, you can disallow Facebook ads from using data learned about you from other “Facebook Company Products”, such as Messenger, Instagram, and AR Studio.

Settings > Ads > Ad settings > select each section and change to Not allowed or No one

Remember: Facebook isn’t the product, you are the product. Everything you do generates ad revenue. While that’s fine in principle (everyone’s gotta eat – even Mark ” the billionaire” Zuckerberg), taking the steps above will prevent people from using your online behavior to dictate what you think, feel, or do.

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