Staying Private in Public: Keeping your Information Confidential on Facebook

Staying Private in Public: Keeping your Information Confidential on Facebook

Dennis Snider

263 Posts



Many users would be reluctant to give up Facebook, given its position as many people’s number one social network. However, there is very considerable unease regarding the amount of information the company gathers about its users. Once you’re on Facebook, the company effectively has you hooked, following you around the Internet to find out your interests and feeding you ads accordingly. It also follows you in the real world through the posts you make that identify your location; even if you shut down your Facebook account, it can still carry on tracking you. However, there are certain ways in which you can keep Facebook out of (parts of) your life.

1: Limit your information flow

If you go into Facebook settings and select “Ads”, “Preferences” and “Settings”, you can tell Facebook that you don’t want to see ads from its partners and you don’t want Facebook to control the ads you see on other websites.

2: Cut out third parties

Again, by going into settings and selecting “Apps and websites” you can control the information accessible to apps and websites to which you logged in using Facebook. You can even, under “Preferences”, prevent any app, website or game accessing your account. However, of course, this means you won’t be able to access them either.

3: Block the tracking

Certain tools are available on some browsers, e.g. Firefox and Safari, that can stop Facebook tracking you through third-party cookies or browser fingerprinting. Safari automatically blocks Facebook from doing this; Firefox has a Facebook Container extension that keeps Facebook separate from your activities elsewhere, so Facebook will only know what you’ve been doing if you use a Facebook like button on a website.

4: Hide your location

Stop Facebook knowing where you are by denying it access to your phone’s location services. However, your location can still be tracked via your IP address, but you can block this by using a VPN that cloaks your location. You will still receive ads targeted at people in the location Facebook thinks you are occupying, and if it believes you are constantly changing your IP it may ask you to log in more frequently.

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