I’ve been posting a lot about Facebook recently. I gave ‘10 reasons to leave Facebook‘ a few weeks ago – but for many people that seems either to be impossible, or very, very difficult. So, what can you do if you ‘can’t’ leave Facebook, and you want to minimise your privacy risks? After the new stuff on Facebook’s Graph Search (see my blog posts here and here), now the revelation that people on Facebook will no longer have the option to avoid being ‘searchable’, this is becoming more and more important.
So what can you do? Well, here are twelve suggestions from me – I’m sure there are many more…
- Check your privacy settings. Really check them. Lock them down as tight as you can – but remember that they only control what other users can see, not what Facebook can see or use for their profiling of you.
- Prune your ‘friends’ list down to an absolute minimum. With Graph Search this is particularly important – it seems as though Graph Search will assume that if you’re ‘friends’ with someone then all your data is available for full analysis for search by those friends. If they’re just people you met once, or were in the same year as at school or college, would you really trust them with your most intimate details?
- Never press the ‘like’ button ever, ever again. The ‘like’ button is another of the profiling keys – and could effectively give permission for those whom you like to access your data.
- Do a serious deletion job on your photographs – Graph Search will search them, facial recognition may be applied, and not just to you but to anyone in the photos. If you have a friend (a real one) who’s in one of your photos, it’s not just you who’s being subject to privacy risks.
- Think before you post any more photos – same reasons, really. Do you really need to ‘share’ that picture? If you don’t, don’t! And if you ‘need’ to, is there a way to do it other than Facebook?
- Never use geolocation again – at least not on Facebook. If you’re given the option to allow any application to know your location, say no! Geolocation is a tool that’s immensely useful at times – when you’re using maps, or other transport apps (for train timetables etc) but most of the time it’s really not necessary at all.
- Check the apps you use to access Facebook on your phone or tablet – there are all kinds of risks associated with apps that people simply don’t think about. The settings may be very different from what you think – again, think geolocation, think photo tagging.
- Think about when you post, as well as what and why. Posting at night, for example, could profile you as a ‘night owl’, for whatever reason.
- Don’t play games on Facebook – play them somewhere else. Games are primarily used for profiling, and may have privacy risks attached that are not immediately obvious.
- Don’t sign into any other service ‘via Facebook’ if you have the option. All you’re doing is allowing the two services to share data, to add depth and strength to their profile.
- Sign out of Facebook whenever you’re not using it – don’t leave it running in the background when you do other stuff. When you’re signed in, you can be giving permission to Facebook to track or follow other activities. Now they might be doing that anyway, but you shouldn’t give them the legal excuse to!
- Keep ‘work’ and home separate on Facebook if you can. It may not be easy….
Finally, though, think again about whether you really do need to be on Facebook. You may need to – or you may want to – but if so, you should manage your risks and be as ‘savvy’ about it as you can.