In the face of a scandal – should you stay on Facebook?
It’s a good bet that on the day Mark Zuckerberg logged into Facebook and saw the story about Cambridge Analytica, he sorely regretted that he’d never created an unlike button.
As most Facebook account holders have heard, Christopher Wylie, founder of the data firm Cambridge Analytica, recently told The Guardian that his company had gathered information from 50 million Facebook users illegitimately; then used that data to target voters during the 2016 Trump campaign and the UK’s Brexit Leave campaign. While the world only heard about it this spring, Facebook actually learned about the data breach in 2015.
With more than five million businesses advertising on Facebook each month, and more than five billion users, the social media giant stands to lose a lot if everyone who says they are considering deleting their accounts follows through ( one in ten Canadians surveyed say they plan to delete their accounts. Nearly three quarters say they will change their Facebook habits).
What, if anything, should you do?
Unfortunately, data breaches are not new and they’re not unique to Facebook. Even if you delete your Facebook account, if you use the Internet at all, your data continues to be at risk. Last July, the computers of Equifax were hacked and the personal information of more than 143 million Americans were stolen. And for many online businesses, Facebook is one of the largest sales and marketing platforms available. The reality is, there aren’t that many choices for online marketers.
But there are choices you can make to help keep your data safe online.
Stop apps from sharing your data
- Go to your settings from the home page (from the drop-down menu on the top right).
- Click "Apps" from the sidebar on the left.
- You'll see four boxes: Apps, Websites and Plugins; Game and App Notifications; Apps Others Use; and Old Versions of Facebook for Mobile. Under "Apps, Websites and Plugins," click "Edit."
- Click "Disable Platform." This will prevent you from being able to use Facebook to log into other apps or websites.
Limit what data apps can share
- Go to "Apps" in your Facebook settings.
- Under "Apps Others Use," click "Edit."
- Click or unclick the data you want to share or not share. This will keep Facebook from sharing information you're not comfortable sharing with data collectors.
If changing your settings isn’t enough to make you comfortable on Facebook, you can choose to either deactivate or delete your account.
Deactivating will make you invisible to anyone on Facebook, but it doesn’t delete your information from Facebook’s servers. You can log back in whenever you like and things will be just as they were when you left.
- Go to your Facebook settings and click General in the left column.
- Choose Manage your account.
- Scroll down to click Deactivate your account.
Deleting your account will make everything from your profile information to your wall posts disappear, but it won’t include messages sent through Facebook Messenger. Before you delete your account, you may want to download all your Facebook information (your posts and photos) rather than lose it. The process is simple:
Download your Facebook data
- Go to your Facebook settings and select "Download a copy of your Facebook data" from the bottom of the page.
- The site will gather all your data, which might take a few minutes. Facebook will notify you via the website, app and email when it's complete.
- Click "Start my archive."
- Enter your password.
- When Facebook notifies you that your data is finished downloading, follow the link, and click "Download Archive."
- Save it to your computer.
Delete your account:
- Go to your Facebook settings and click “Edit” next to “Manage Account”.
- Click “Request Account deletion”.
- Follow the instructions.
Remember, it may take up to 90 days before your information is permanently removed from Facebook’s servers. And if you have a change of heart, you also have a few days to undo the process.