“Privacy CheckList Series”: Protect Your Privacy on Facebook

Think of your personal data on the Internet as your passport or your driver’s license. What steps do you take to protect your passport or your driver’s license in the real world? Do you, personally, take steps to protect them?

You should take care of your personal information on the Internet and your digital identity just as you take care of your physical IDs, maybe even more. Do not leave it to someone else to protect your virtual identity. We have to start with ourselves.

In this post, I will explain the basics of privacy settings on Facebook. Treat this post as a checklist, bookmark it and come back to it every now and then to see if everything is in order.

NOTE: To find the “Settings & Privacy”, open the Facebook app on your cellphone or tablet, then click on the option on the top right side of the screen. Scroll down and second to last option is “Settings & Privacy”.

A. “Privacy” Heading

1. “Privacy Settings”

Found under: “Settings & Privacy” > “Settings” > “Privacy” heading > “Privacy Settings”

The “Privacy Settings” here is more related to how your friends or non-friends see your profile, who can see your friends list or what posts are visible to public/friends list… . It does not really relate to your personal data and how it is being handled. Nevertheless, you should review it carefully.

Action Item: For a quick review of your privacy settings, go under this option then choose “Check a few important settings”, then choose “Your data settings on Facebook”. Follow the instructions on the screen.

2. “Face Recognition”

Found under: “Settings & Privacy” > “Settings” > “Privacy” heading > “Face Recognition”

Action Item: You should turn this off unless you want the machines to learn how you look like. Also, don’t post a lot of portraits and selfies on Facebook or on the Internet! Just a thought…

3. “Location”

Found under: “Settings & Privacy” > “Settings” > “Privacy” heading > “Location”

Facebook uses your location to send you more relevant ads. Personally, I am okay with Facebook knowing where I am, however, I also find it somewhat unsettling to know somewhere there is a database of my exact locations 24/7 for the past God knows how long!

Action Item: Turn off “Location Access” and “Location History”.

Action Item: Under “Location History” click on “View Your Location History”. on top right side of the screen click on and chose “Delete all location history”.

Note that even if you turn off the “Location Access” and “Location History”, if you check in to someplace on Facebook, then Facebook will still use that information to send you relevant ads and suggestions.

B.”Your Facebook Information” Heading

1. “Access Your Information”

Found under: “Settings & Privacy” > “Settings” > “Your Facebook Information” heading > “Access Your Information”

This setting is an important one as it shows you what information about you is out there on Facebook.

Action Item: Scroll down and click on “Apps and Websites”. There is an option with the same name, “Apps and Websites”. There you can review and delete the apps and websites that you have logged into using your Facebook profile. Just be careful, if you disconnect your Facebook profile from these apps and websites, they may delete your profiles on those disconnected apps and services.

Action Item: Under the main “Apps and Websites” setting under “Access Your Information”, click on “Posts From Apps and Websites”. Clear the Activity Log.

Action Item: Under “Access Your Information” scroll down and click on “Search History”. Under “Your Search History” clear the Activity Log.

2. “Off-Facebook Activity”

Found under: “Settings & Privacy” > “Settings” > “Your Facebook Information” heading > “Off-Facebook Activity”

This is the newest Privacy related option added by Facebook. It shows you which applications or services send your data to Facebook. Facebook then uses these data to show you personalized ads.

Action Item: Under “Off-Facebook Activity” there is an option “Clear History” that allows you to disconnect Facebook from the applications that are sending your data to Facebook. You should note that if you decide to clear your history under this option, it will not delete the data that has been sent to Facebook so far. It will disconnect the applications from Facebook and will prevent future transactions of your data between Facebook and the applications you have disconnected from.

Action Item: You should re-visit this option to monitor or clear your history every now and then.

3. “Account Ownership and Control”

Found under: “Settings & Privacy” > “Settings” > “Your Facebook Information” heading > “Account Ownership and Control”

This is where you go when you want to learn about Facebook Privacy settings. Just follow the instructions on the screen.

C. “Ads” Heading

1. “Your Information”

Found under: “Settings & Privacy” > “Settings” > “Ads” heading > “Ad Preferences” > “Your Information”

Action Item: Turn off all the following, only if you don’t want to see ads based on them:

  • Relationship Status;
  • Employer;
  • Job Title;
  • Education.

Action Item: Click on “Review and Manage Your Categories” at the bottom of the “Your Information” page.  Here you see a list of categories that Facebook has added you to based on the information Facebook has about you. You can delete and review the categories here.

2. “Ads Settings”

Found under: “Settings & Privacy” > “Settings” > “Ads” heading > “Ad Preferences” > “Ads Settings

Under “Ads Settings”, there are three sub-settings:

  • “Ads based on data from partners”;
  • “Ads based on your activity on Facebook Company Products that you see elsewhere”;
  • “Ads that include your social actions”

Action Item: Turn all of them off, unless you want to see personalized ads and you are okay with companies sending and receiving your data.








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