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How to Manage Privacy Settings on Facebook and Why You Should

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So much is happening on social media at any given time. It’s become a natural part of life. In between scrolling through photos, random political rants, and quizzes you can often miss what personal information you are haphazardly sharing on Facebook. 

Yes, your privacy is in your hands, sort of. But apart from the information you are actively sharing about your life: photos, and random day-to-day chatter, there are also quite a few things you may be passively sharing on Facebook. 

Now that you know you’re sharing more than you realize, you may wonder what Facebook is doing with your information. 

First and foremost, there’s a great deal of marketing research that you’re a part of, whether you realize it or not. When you share what you’re buying, watching, and enjoying, those are golden nuggets of information for the companies putting those products out. 

New technological advancements, phone and software updates mean there are more privacy settings you need to keep track of. But Facebook is not likely to list the worst-case scenario or tell you what can happen. 

What can that information look like in the wrong hands? How is it being used to violate our privacy, push more advertising in front of our faces, or potentially manipulate us?

Throughout Facebook’s history of rolling out new services and integrating with devices, there have been new privacy notices and settings to manage. Oftentimes, they’ll already be active so you have to turn them off manually. 

But did you know that Facebook also has more personal information on you than the US census? Facebook does have a privacy shortcut. But even they might not be 100% forthcoming about the information they want you to keep giving them for free. Legally, they have to tell you and give you the freedom to opt-out. But they do NOT have to make it easy. 

Navigating these settings can be a pain. You might not understand the full scope of what these features can mean in the long run. Here’s a list of major privacy settings and why you should turn them off.

Getting Started 

Changing your privacy settings can easily be done from the app on your phone. You can do it while you’re organizing things around your house or waiting in line at a store. You simply click on the Menu button in the app. Then scroll down to Settings and Privacy. Then select Settings. From there:

1. ) Turn of Geolocation

How to Do It: From the Settings menu scroll down to the Privacy section and select Location. From there, click on Location Access and set it to turn off. You can set it for only when the app is in use but it’s still the same problem. You can also click on Location History and set that to off as well. 

Why Do It: What could someone do with the GPS coordinates of your work, your job, your friends’ homes? The idea of the app you use to chat with friends forming a picture of where you are going feels a but too much like human tracking. Also, you likely don’t need the app to know where you are unless you are checking in somewhere. But you should realize that the app is constantly running in the background, tracking where you are going. If it seems a bit Big Brother, that’s because it is.

2.) Turn of Face Recognition

How To Do It: From the Settings menu scroll down to the Privacy section and select Face Recognition. Under Do You Want Facebook to be able to recognize you in photos and videos? Turn the settings to no. 

Why Do It: Imagine what a software could do with facial recognition software that has had access to decades of photos of your face. Now imagine if it scours the internet to locate photos of you and then tags them with your identity. Suddenly it’s a lot harder to be private. And if there is video footage on the internet, you may not want your name and location attached to it. 

3.) Limit Past Posts 

How to Do It: From the Settings menu scroll down to the Privacy section and select Privacy Settings. From there click on Limit Past Posts

Why Do It: In our present cancel culture, it’s never a bad idea to limit what people can see from your social media past. We all have our regrettable posted episodes that we don’t necessarily want living on in infamy. Imagine a post from 2013 with problematic language from a joke you told in college. Or maybe you weren’t aware that your fiance’s mother could do a deep dive into your photos of ex-boyfriend’s posts. It doesn’t hurt to limit past posts. This will keep your posts private and manageable. Doing a full social media scrub might be difficult, but it is highly recommended. 

4.) Turn Off Ad-Targeting 

How to Do It:  From the Settings menu scroll down to the Ads section and select Ad Preferences. Then click Ad Settings. Then click Data About Your Activity from Partners. Then select Not Allowed

Why Do It: This setting is exactly why you may look up something and suddenly are getting it advertised to you on Facebook. It encourages tracking. While from a business standpoint it’s a good idea, you might be sketched out about brands sneaking around watching what you are doing on Facebook or the Internet to advertise to you. 

5.) Turn Off Ad-Targeting Part 2

How to Do It:  From the Settings menu scroll down to the Ads section and select Ad Preferences. Then click Ad Settings. Then click Categories to Reach You Then select Not Allowed

Why Do It: Using information to target you is creepy. Do you really need to get a bunch of ads just because you’re single or you work and shop in a particular area? Turning these features off limits what information can be used to target you. It also helps you maintain some privacy.

6.) Turn off Ads Shown Off Facebook 

How to Do It:  From the Settings menu scroll down to the Ads section and select Ad Preferences. Then click Ad Settings. Then click Ads Shown Off Facebook. Then select Not Allowed

Why Do It: This limits more of that free market research. You don’t want to be targeted based on interests and personal information you think you are simply sharing with friends. This setting limits Facebook’s ability to leverage your personal information to increase the advertisements you see while you’re not even on Facebook. 

7.) Turn off Advertising Social Interactions 

How to Do It:  From the Settings menu scroll down to the Ads section and select Ad Preferences. Then click Ad Settings. Then click Social Interactions. Then select Only Me

Why Do It: This enters an interesting territory. If your friends see that you like a page or ad and they see your name they may take this as an endorsement. Do you want to be endorsing a random item you clicked on Facebook? It’s a line that’s worth considering for the sake of your friends and contacts who may end up interacting with an ad because you clicked on it. 

There’s a delicate balance of what you do and do not want to share on Facebook. It’s important to regularly check your privacy settings as there are continual updates to settings and features. Hopefully, after removing these settings you have some peace of mind of what you are sharing and what you might be avoiding. It’s always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to the exposure of your precious privacy.

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