Regardless of the ultimate implications for using Facebook and other social platforms, it’s important that users of social media understand what information they are sharing when they allow access to their social media profiles or log in to other apps using those credentials. While it is very convenient to log in to an app with your Facebook or Twitter profile, this can lead to you sharing more information than you might realize. In most cases it is only your email address and social media profile that is shared, but you could also be unwittingly disclosing the types of posts you like, location data and even information about your friends on the social media platform. As we’re seeing in the Cambridge Analytica story, this data can be used to present you with information that is designed to influence your opinion on a wide range of issues.
If you use social media platforms, you won’t be able to stop third parties from getting their hands on your data. But there are ways you can limit the amount of data that can be mined from those accounts.
Review your connected apps section of Facebook settings to see which apps are accessing your social media profile. Click on “Settings” and then “Apps and Websites”. Check the “Active” and “Expired” sections and remove the apps you know longer want to share your data with.
On Twitter, click on your profile and then go into “Accounts and Privacy”, then click on the “Apps” tab. Review the permissions for each app and determine if you’re comfortable with the data you are sharing.
Some other things you might want to consider:
- Weigh whether the convenience of your login experience is more important than the information you’ll be sharing with the creator of an application.
- Consider what you’re sharing online before you do it. As fun as it is for all of your Facebook friends to wish you a happy birthday, remember that date of birth is a method of authentication when you need access to something, such as your online bank account.
- Be wary of taking every quiz and entering every contest that comes your way on social media or other internet websites. Many of these quizzes ask questions that are also used to authenticate you to various websites if you forget your password.
- Turn off cookies (browsing data) on your browser.
- Read what information the app will take when you download it!
- Delete old social media accounts that you no longer use.
- Install a tracker blocker. These are add-ons you can install within your browser. In some cases they may result in a website not working properly.
- Install an add blocker. This is another add-on that can be installed on your browser.
- Take the time to research ways to enhance the privacy settings across your social media accounts.
Using social platforms to connect with friends, family and for professional networking likely won’t go away anytime soon. If you’re going to use these platforms you should expect that the information you include is public, so don’t reveal anything you would not want publicly known. But if you take the time to review your accounts and make sure permissions are set the way you want them, you’ll be going a long way towards controlling your own data and only sharing what you want.