(First Published January 2020)
Now, I am not a fan of Facebook purely from a privacy perspective. I can see the appeal of social networking platforms like Facebook.
I have an acquaintance who recently decided to set up a Facebook account as a friend he knows was moving to country where Facebook was the only means of messaging people. I did ask him why he had not simply downloaded the Facebook messenger app instead of creating a Facebook account.
Anyway he assured me that it was completely locked down and private. Needless to say when I checked it wasn’t. So I thought a short blog on taking control of your Facebook’s privacy settings maybe necessary.
Now basic privacy principals is about looking at the platforms and apps you use and adjusting the privacy settings accordingly. Moving forward there maybe be a necessity to invest in your privacy some of which I will explore in future blogs.Now Facebook has been involved in some nightmare privacy scandals and to give them their due they have made life difficult for people to leverage the site for information. A couple of years ago you could place a mobile number in the search bar and it would find you the account it was linked to. That no longer exists but you could still use the messenger feature within Facebook to add a number to find the account, that too has recently disappeared. Facebook have also announced that they will no longer link a mobile number used for 2FA (Two Factor Authentication) to an account.
In June 2019 Facebook also discontinued the Graph Search feature. Now all this may potentially thwart the casual researcher however a dedicated and methodical OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) practitioner is still able to leverage the site. Does Facebook monitor the OSINT community? I do not know however if I was Facebook I would be.
Moving forward however Facebook looks like it is rolling out a new preventive health tool and is asking user to participate in their facial recognition tech. There has been some discussion for a while that Facebook intends to bring all their messenger apps, Facebook messenger, WhatsApp & Instagram under one platform. What this would mean for privacy awaits to be seen.
I completely understand why people use Facebook. If you have ever been stuck on the M25 commuting to and from work, there are plenty of groups that provide live updates. If you have a favourite sports team or personality what better way to follow them. Lets not forget staying update to date with what friends are doing whether that is a genuine reason of just because we are nosy by default. In a later blog I will write about how you can setup an Alias account to protect your privacy. Something that journalists or people working in sensitive positions may find useful too.
So firstly to lock down your privacy you need to go to the settings
Then the Privacy tab. This is where you can then lock your account down.
Once you are happy with your privacy settings you can then preview how it looks to the outside world. Go to your timeline and click on the three dots next to the Activity Log an select, View as.
One new area of privacy that has hit the headlines of late is the how other apps share your data with Facebook. Thankfully you can view this and also turn it off.
To do this you need to navigate to you information settings where you will find the Off-Facebook Activity. You can download your activity and also see who has been sharing your activity with Facebook. You maybe surprised by what other apps are sharing with Facebook.In here you can then turn off this feature by going to;- Manage Future Activity – Future off-Facebook Activity and toggle the off switch. You will get the usual warnings about how this affects how Facebook can serve you however this should not stop you from confirming you wish to turn it off.
Hopefully you have found this introduction to Facebook privacy helpful so go and have a look for yourself.