How to Protect your Online Data After Facebook's Cambridge Analytica Controversy

How to Protect your Online Data After Facebook's Cambridge Analytica Controversy

You’ve heard the news that Facebook has collected and shared your personal data to an unknown number and type of organizations. Countless other third-party app makers have done the same thing-and have been for years. This month, a whistleblower revealed that Cambridge Analytica had mined data from 50 million users.

The app developers exploited the “Friends Permission” feature of Facebook but mine data directly from users and every Facebook friend they had. A seemingly innocuous app called “thisisyourdigitallife” scraped profile names, locations, and content liked by users and their friends. This information is alleged to be used to help the 2016 presidential campaign.

Facebook changed the “Friends Permission” feature in 2014 after concerns for user privacy. In response to the current controversy, Facebook has rolled out new privacy settings to further protect users. Some users have called for a boycott of Facebook with the hashtag #DeleteFacebook. Deleting your account, won’t protect previously stored data. Here’s how to protect your data online:

Update your Privacy Settings

Facebook has created a massive social network by allowing its network to connect to a wide range of other third party apps. You might use this connection within Facebook or to ease the process of signing into multiple apps. Access Facebook’s App Settings and delete any apps that aren’t worth the risk of data compromise. Delete apps you haven’t used for years and apps that gather particularly sensitive information. If you’d like to step up your privacy and protection to another level, you can disabled apps completely.

View your Profile from the Public View

On your Facebook profile page, click the three dots next to “View Activity Log”. View your profile as its available to everyone on the internet. Check to see whether your Friends List, home town, and Profile Pictures are available. Lock down your profile as much as possible to protect your data from unintended purposes.

Clear your Browser

Because the Facebook app is connected to so many sources of data, it’s possible to scrape data from beyond the app. Clear your web browser cookies to hide your Internet browsing history. If you do this periodically, you’ll notice a decrease in the number of Facebook advertisements that seem to reflect your online search history.

Click with Caution

Be careful what you click on within Facebook. The trendy apps that show us aged 20 years, guess our personality, or predict the future have been tied to massive data leaks. Facebook games are particularly tricky because you can inadvertently opt-in to sharing your data by clicking “Play Now”. Even deleting the app doesn’t remove your data. Many privacy policies state that you’ll have to contact the game company to inquire about removing your data from their servers.

It’s a tough balancing act to determine how much personal information to share on social media. Sharing personal preferences creates a personalized experience. It can also open the door to the use of your data without your knowledge. We can’t eliminate risk but we can heighten awareness and take precautions. If you’ve lost your data, from a breach or another cause, call us at 1-800-388-1266 or submit an online help form to get your free, no-risk quote for recovery.

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Laura Bednar is a content writer for Secure Data. She writes blogs about trends in technology and budding privacy laws in the digital age. She also creates content for web pages and marketing materials for company products.

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