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Keep Your Facebook Account Secure

Facebook has over 2 billion users. Last month, 87 million of them became more worried. That’s when news broke of the Cambridge Analytica data breach. They found that their Facebook account information may have been harvested and shared with the political data-mining firm. Or may have unknowingly given away the private information of family or friends.

If you’re concerned, what can you do? As part of the scandal’s fallout, Facebook is rolling out new privacy settings. From a user’s perspective, some have taken the extreme step of leaving Facebook altogether—after weeks of news of the breach, the ‘#Delete Facebook’ hashtag still trends. However, many rely on Facebook as their primary form of connectivity, making simply deleting it not very practical.

If you’re still paranoid about Facebook, but still want to use it, here are four immediate steps you can take to limit what information you share using the social media giant:

A few years ago, Facebook was the epitome social experience. You could check in on friends see what they’ve been up to; or you could share your kid’s pictures with just family members.

But many now look at Facebook as more of an ad-driven experience. It’s gotten a bit spammy. Facebook is where most people get THE ENIRETY of their news. Most people don’t do research or read for themselves. They use Facebook’s cherry-picked articles and/or the pages or people they follow to get their news fix on a daily basis.

It may be the time to take a respite from the pull that Facebook has on you by deleting Facebook’s app off your phone. You just have to delete the app. That’s it. Not your Facebook account. Not your life on the Internet. Just the app.

An added bonus: if you delete Facebook from your phone, your battery life will improve dramatically.

By default, Facebook gathers location data and uses it for status updates and photo uploads. It also provides your location to third-party apps and services. With location data, companies know where you’re going, where you came from, and can even track your daily movements like where you live and work and what restaurants and other businesses you frequent.

If you’re unwilling to delete the Facebook app from your phone, at least turn off Facebook’s “Location Services.” That way, Facebook gets less location data on you.

Just go to Settings, Location, and toggle it to off.

Many times, to install a new app on your phone—such as a game or a retailer’s app —you’ve given sites permission to log into your Facebook account. You can disable these accounts (see these detailed step-by-step instructions with screenshots).

According to the BBC News, “Never click on a ‘like’ button on a product service page and if you want to play games and quizzes, don’t log in through Facebook but go directly to the site,” said Paul Bernal, a lecturer in Information Technology, Intellectual Property and Media Law at the University of East Anglia School of Law.

Facebook provides some controls over our data and privacy that many don’t know about. While you’re logged in to your Facebook account, explore the “Settings” menu.

Select every item in the menu — from “Privacy” to “Ads” — and read each of the descriptions of the available options. Update your settings where possible to limit the information you put out there, and the extent to which you authorize Facebook to share it with others.

After you take the steps above, you should be a safer Facebook user, Keep in mind, though that the Facebook business model is built on collecting your data. And you should be concerned with what it does with it.

According to Bloomberg columnist Shira Ovide, “…Facebook… is putting some locks on what outsiders can do, and that’s good. But Facebook still collects reams of data about you from not just what you do on Facebook but from what you do in the real world—from purchases that you make, for example, from other websites that you visit all over the Internet. So Facebook really hasn’t committed to limiting much at all that kind of information that Facebook itself is collecting.”

Resources: Money Talks News, Mashable, Silicon Republic, NPR, the Verge, BBC News, Trusted Reviews, CNET.

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