Facebook is notorious for the absolute lack of privacy it provides to its users. Ever since incidents like Cambridge Analytica have started to surface, people are becoming more conscious of gaining privacy over Facebook.
The fact, Facebook hoards user data is a bitter pill to swallow. To get rid of this data collecting, we simply can not shun Facebook from our lives, considering we have a social circle there! However, we can try to attain some levels of privacy and security.
Now, sticking strictly to all the Facebook privacy settings does not guarantee complete privacy and security online. The maximum-security these Facebook privacy settings provide is privacy from nosy friends, neighbors, and relatives
These privacy settings, however, don’t allow privacy from ISPs, government, and data snoopers. I have therefore compiled this article as a step by step guide to attaining complete privacy over Facebook. It divides into two parts:
- General Facebook privacy settings
- Privacy settings to hide from data snoopers
Are you interested in getting secure? So let’s get started.
General Facebook privacy settings
Facebook is all about sharing our lives with our friends. It provides an easy outlet to interact and increase your social circle. Along with that, Facebook offers a great platform to advertise businesses and opens up job opportunities for many people.
However, sharing information online, let it be Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, there is a thin line on how much is too much. Although sharing general information such as birthdays, likes, and dislikes may seem harmless to share, this information is enough to build your personality profile or to launch a phishing attack over yours.
If not that, there are always creepy strangers sliding into your DMs trying to get all cozy over you! Facebook, therefore, thankfully allows users some degree of control over our privacy. Here are steps to get private:
1. Go through Facebook Privacy Checkup
In an attempt to give your privacy in your hands, Facebook offers a privacy checkup option. This cover four tabs:
- Who can see what you share: Allows you to control the audience to your profile information and posts. Furthermore, it allows you to block spammers and creepy strangers.
- How to keep your account secure: This tab manages how secure your password is. Additionally, it sends login alerts to your Facebook and messenger on your emails and cell phone.
- How people can find you on Facebook: From this tab, you can control who can search you on Facebook and send you friend requests.
- Your data settings on Facebook: Any third-party apps that are connected to your Facebook account are listed here, you can control which one to remove.
To access these tabs, go to settings> privacy settings and choose the option, “check a few important settings.” From here:
- Get rid of third party apps as they hog your data and send target advertisements
- Limit the audience to your general information such as birthdays, institutions, etc. or try to remove such information altogether.
- Turn on login alerts to know anytime there is a forced entry in your account. Keep up a strong password too to ensure security
- Control who sends you friend requests. You can set it to “friends of friends” to limit creepy encounters online.
With these settings in place, you can gain certain levels of privacy and anonymity over Facebook and get rid of nosy and creepy encounters.
2. turn off face recognition
One quite worrying feature Facebook has that it stores hundreds of pictures of its user’s face from various angles. Such sensitive information paired with other information such as:
- Names of family members
- Close friends and associates
With collecting all this data, any interested party can build your profile or make users fall victim to identity theft. This information can also be used to launch social engineering attacks.
As Facebook manages to collect such data through face recognition, you can quite quickly turn this off. To get rid of face recognition, tap on Settings, and scroll down to security and click on Face Recognition. Here click on “no” under the option “do you want Facebook to recognize you in photos and videos.”
3. unlink to search engines
Searching people up on Facebook does not only limit searching their name, email address, or phone number on the search bar. People can also search you up through search engines, just by typing in your name or email address.
Albeit this may be convenient for businesses advertising or running through Facebook, or even for individuals using Facebook as a platform to gain recognition. However, for many people, this option exposes them to a broad audience searching them up.
Additionally, linking your profile to search engines means every information you have put up over your profile is also available for search engines to collect. This can again be abused in many ways, such as selling to third parties for target advertisements and whatnot.
It is, therefore, better to turn this option off altogether. For this, go to Facebook settings and scroll down to privacy and tap on “privacy settings.” Here scroll down to the option “do you want search engines to link your Facebook profile,” select the option to No and get secure.
Additional facebook privacy settings
General privacy settings available on Facebook efficiently hide you from various apps and people who might be unnecessarily interested in you. However, these settings don’t protect you from ISP, Government, cybercriminals, and even Facebook itself from collecting your data.
To get rid of these data snoopers, follow these given safety precautions. However, it is essential to note that these settings are only useful if you have your general privacy settings in place, and you tend to share limited data online.
1. Use a VPN
A legitimate VPN is the best source for online privacy, and the security one can have. Not only do these VPNs encrypt your traffic, but they also provide anonymity by masking your IP address.
Using Facebook with a VPN makes sure that your network is encrypted, and no one gathers information monitoring it. Additionally, VPNs also mask your original location while providing you with a pseudo one.
This provides you privacy as now Facebook won’t be able to track your real-time activity. Now, this is undoubtedly arguable that you can turn off location from Facebook itself. However, there is a little guarantee if Facebook will stop tracking you.
It can still go on tracking secretly without your knowledge. Using a VPN, therefore, eradicates this suspicion altogether by hiding your original location. Apart from that, having a VPN connection also provides various other advantages such as:
- Helps you surpass ISP throttling
- Allows easy Netflix streaming
- You can get rid of geographical restrictions
However, while opting for a VPN, it is better to choose a paid, legitimate one. Additionally, while using Facebook with VPN, make sure your information is not available on your profile, and your activity is discreet.
2. Use Facebook through Tor
Tor is yet again another online privacy and security tool. The catch over this tool is that its very developers are the US army. They developed Tor as a means of transporting sensitive information and for safe passage of communication. This ultimately vouches for the security and privacy it offers.
Similarly, using Facebook over the tor browser offers an initiative to privacy over Facebook. As Facebook is notorious for tracking online activity, the tor browser prevents this by enclosing information in layers of concealment.
Additionally, tracking activity through Tor is more difficult as it bounces user information from node to node before sending it to its destination. This changes user location and with Tor masking IP address, provides users anonymity.
Furthermore, Tor prevents anyone from collecting user data by providing browser fingerprinting protection and blocking ad pop-ups. For safe browsing through Tor, Facebook even has a dedicated .onion extension.
However, it is crucial to understand that such privacy measures are only useful if you don’t keep your information private. Also, as Tor has its flaws, using it with a VPN provides the best form of protection.
3. use Firefox facebook container
With facing backlash over-collecting data, many people are opting out of using Facebook altogether. However, this is not the ultimate solution to this data tracking problem as Facebook tracks web activity through widgets peppered across various sites.
These sites usually contain the Facebook like button, have Facebook commenting enabled or provide users the option to sign in to Facebook. With Firefox Facebook containers, however, you can block these widgets.
This protects data tracking from Facebook and also hides your browsing history from the platform. Additionally, as Facebook tracks user data through Instagram and messenger, this privacy adds on blocks these trackers too enabling privacy from Facebook.
Yet again, it is crucial to remember that this container does not protect you from the data you have shared on Facebook. Therefore, maintaining this privacy is only possible if you choose to stay private and share limited information.
Attaining real privacy online is a hard task to forgo. However, following the given measures can contribute to some levels of security. With Facebook actively collecting data, ultimate privacy is only through proper vigilance.