In the wake of the recent Cambridge Analytica revelations, social media users are now starting to discover the extent of the data Facebook has stored about them. With that in mind, we thought we’d do a little delving into what info they might hold on you, and explore if – and how – you might give less away.
Should you be worried?
Facebook has more than 2 billion users, which means it has information on nearly a third of the world’s population, including data relating to you and your friends.
With full access to your data, it knows a lot about you and your habits. This makes it really easy to accurately predict your behaviour, including, for instance, what you’re likely to be doing this time next week.
What kind of data does Facebook store?
Basically, Facebook has kept a record of just about everything you’ve ever done on the site, down to ads you’ve clicked on, people’s phone numbers, even those you’re not in touch with any more, events you’ve attended or declined, not-so-innocent quizzes you’ve filled in, even long-deleted photos.
The amount of data revealed is staggering, but it’s not until it’s staring you in the face that you realise just how much Facebook knows about you.
Should you delete Facebook?
As a result of the revelations many people have already deleted their account on the social network. But before you rush to do the same, it’s worth checking exactly what data Facebook has collected on you since you first signed up. You can access your data archive via the settings panel in Facebook.
How to access your Facebook archive
You can download a compressed archive that contains all the data and personal information Facebook has on you. It’s quite an eye-opener.
To download your information, follow these steps:
1. Go to your Settings menu on Facebook.
2. Go to General section.
3. Click “Download a copy of your Facebook data” at the bottom.
4. Click “Start My Archive”.
5. Find a darkened room to recover from the shock!
A quick way of checking what details Facebook knows – and limiting who else can access them – is via the ad preferences page. Here you’ll see what information you’ve given them and can then decide what you’ll allow Facebook to share with advertisers.
To prevent Facebook from following you around the web, go to Ad Preferences, open Ad settings and change the top option “Ads based on your use of websites and apps” to “Off”.
What next for Facebook?
You won’t be surprised to hear that the Cambridge Analytica furore has damaged Facebook’s reputation. As a result, the company has announced an overhaul of its security and privacy settings to make it easier for people to see and control the data they’re sharing on social media.
A new privacy shortcuts menu now makes it easier to access the more important aspects of account security. Here you’ll be able to activate two-factor authentication, control your personal information, control which ads you see and manage who sees your posts and profile information.
New data management tools can be found under Access Your Information where you’ll be able to review your past interactions on the site and have the option to delete them.
It’s worth knowing, though, that you’ll never be able to reclaim all the information Facebook holds. That’s something you agreed to when you signed up.
The company has said it will be proposing changes to its terms of service and updating its data policy to make it clearer what data is taken and, more importantly, how it’s used.
Given that user trust in Facebook has taken a battering, with widespread calls for deletion and large companies pulling out, those changes can’t come soon enough.