Today is the International Day of Privacy. Symbolically, the best day to remove my Facebook profile. But does this mean I will stop using Facebook altogether? I will come back to that later on in the blog post.
You may ask yourself, why now? Facebook’s blatant disregard for privacy is already well known for a while now. Today does have a nice symbolic date to it; but it is also because from the 30th January 2015, you tacitly agree to the new terms. By deleting my profile today, I do not give permission for Facebook to use the data they have collected about me over the past 8 years.
What is so bad about the new conditions?
The main point of criticism is that the new conditions entitle Facebook to share the information about you with 3rd party companies that they have affiliations with.
How much information does Facebook have on an average person?
Through all the likes of your friend’s posts, Facebook pages, and posts from these pages Facebook can decipher your colleagues (with 10 likes), friends (at 70 likes), and even your relatives (with 150 likes). They also have a little trick of tracking through pages that have the ability to “like” on Facebook. (source:.http://time.com/3663775/facebook-likes-personality/ )
Facebook has become a commercial organisation. You are not a customer, but a product. The real customers of Facebook are companies and organisations that place advertisements on the site. Facebook delivers a platform that allows the companies to utilise hyper-focused target audience selections within particular age groups, genders, and locations. But also by using your favourite TV shows, food, political affiliation, etc.
If you currently have the Facebook app (or the Messenger app) on your smartphone or tablet, then you are able to share your location with all of Facebook. In the new conditions, this feature becomes even more widespread. So, for example, you will now be able to have specific ads based on your location. Possibly in the near future, you will have gyms that will advertise on Facebook profiles that often visit fastfood websites. Or health insurance companies that avoid advertising at people that have visited hospital locations or medical centres more than (x) amount of times.
Facebook, like many big corporate companies, now makes multiple statements of “goodwill”; such as Mark Zuckerberg’s interest in charity. This can include Internet.org, which sceptics say is a ploy to get even more people using Facebook.
However, the future of the booming social media platform is not known.
In 10 years time, it may be that someone else takes up the reigns from Zuckerberg, with different motives for the information collected. Nor is it known what political environment we shall live in, and what the laws on data protection shall be. With the revelations of Edward Snowden still ringing in the ears of privacy activists across the globe, it has become all too apparent that the US government has an “alternative” take on how to ensure safety.
It could be that this is one such policy.
What Do I Do Personally?
The important thing is that I am going to delete my profile; therefore none of the information will fall under the new conditions that will come into effect. In preparation of this, I have made a backup of my Facebook data, so I’ll still be able to access my posts, photos and messages. (See https://www.facebook.com/help/131112897028467/ )
However, I will create a new account. This is due to needing a Facebook page for managing the Solutions4Web page; and I don’t want to restrict some of my family and friends from sharing good experiences with me.
With this account, I will no longer log onto the apps on my smartphone or tablet. This is to ensure that things like my location, contacts, calendar, texts, photos and call history will not be linked with my Facebook profile.
I will also be using a separate (virtual) computer when using Facebook, in order to keep this distinct from all the other activities that I do on my computer.
What I Would Advise Everyone
My method may seem very drastic, and a lot of hassle to many people. You may be thinking “Nah, not for me”. But before you make a decision, here are a few points that I believe you should keep in mind:
- Brands that are a part of Facebook: Instagram, WhatsApp & Oculus VR
So these companies/products/apps will share information with Facebook and possibly onto your account.
- The Facebook apps gather a lot of information through your devices.
For example, they need the following rights on Android (iOS will be similar):
Facebook App Facebook Messenger Device & App history X Identity & Accounts X X Blogs X Contacts X X Location Data X X SMS X X Photos / Media / Files X X Camera X X Microphone X X Device ID & Call Information X X Phone X Wi-Fi connection information X
Perhaps you can live without these apps?
- When Facebook is used in private/incognito screens, you limit the fanboxes and the Like/Share buttons on various websites (which give FB insights into your surfing habits)
Chrome (open new incognito window): Shift + Ctrl + N
Firefox (open new private screen): Shift + Ctrl + P
Although there are good alternative social networks with a degree of privacy (e.g https://joindiaspora.com/) the fact remains that most people make use of Facebook. With the want to keep in touch with people, and the simplicity & ease of social networking; it’s hard to fight them. This is also one of the reasons that I created a new Facebook account.
However, it is good to know the rules of the game. Having a profile does not force you to install the apps. And it states nowhere in the terms that you should only use Facebook in a browser without private mode switch on.
If you have any good tips to better protect your privacy on Facebook, then I will be happy to hear!