Abril 20, 2018

How to stop Facebook from grabbing your data

27 Marcha 2018, 05:09 | Benedicto Grullon

App Settings on Facebook

App Settings on Facebook

Commentary | How to share as little data as possible without deleting your Facebook account.

Facebook's, shall we say turbulent, relationship with data privacy has been in the news again, and consumers are once again outraged about the social media giant's tendency towards mass information gathering. Typically, the most suitable hour of Facebook is around 3 pm.

Perhaps it has not been such a bad week for Facebook, after all. Treat Facebook like a public playground, because in a sense, it really is.

Facebook tracks whatever you do on the platform - photos, videos, comments, maps of where you've travelled, and all your "likes". In December, NRB launched its Internet Freedom Watch initiative ( to draw attention to the censorship of Christian and conservative speech by companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Apple. It is against our policies for developers to share data without people's consent, so we immediately banned Kogan's app from our platform, and demanded that Kogan and Cambridge Analytica formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data.

Facebook was quick to point out that it already implemented fixes that would prevent another company from repeating Cambridge Analytica's technique.

"The recent controversies would have no material impact on the relevance and attractiveness and importance of Facebook as a marketing platform", RBC Capital Markets Analyst Mark Mahaney wrote in a note to clients.

Protect user data from third parties more than before. As the typical Facebook user has more than 300 friends, this let them amass data on more than 50 million people. Zuckerberg noted Facebook narrowed the access new apps had later in 2014. It's how they make their living - by offering highly targeted advertising options based on the data they have gathered on their users. Pretty spooky, but I anticipated Facebook tracking this kind of thing since advertisers will want to know how mobile I am.

The top platform won by a huge margin on most attributes. Some of those apps asked for friend permissions.

If you decide to keep the app, make sure that you set up a passcode so that, if its lost or stolen, someone else won't be able to access sensitive personal information in your Facebook account (or other social media programs). Another was failing to take an interest in what developers might be doing with that data.

But those steps don't get at what many outsiders see as bigger problems at Facebook: its rampant data collection from users, its embrace of political ads that target individuals and small demographic groups with precision, and its apparent inability to end malicious use of its service by governments, shady corporations and criminal elements.

"250,000 people took this test and all of their friends' data as well as their data got scooped up for what was seemingly an academic goal", explained technology analyst Charlene Li.

"We thought that every app could be social". Your calendar should be able to show your friends' birthdays, your maps should show where your friends live, and your address book should show their pictures. It was a reasonable vision but it didn't materialize the way we had hoped. As a result, data regulation is also being touted.

Creating well-targeted adverts is the core of the entire online advertising industry, and the business model of nearly all of the largest online companies (barring Apple, which makes money selling us premium devices) - so if the public is outraged by Cambridge Analytica's targeting efforts, the entire online industry will have to ask itself serious questions.

It probably isn't coincidence that Facebook started moving away from the "Move fast and break things" motto around the same time it realised unfettered social access might have consequences.

Even after this week's stock plunge, Facebook remains one of the most valuable companies in the world, with a market capitalization of about US$465-billion.

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