Facebook has been in the news a lot recently. Mark Zuckerberg bought the What’s App company in February for a staggering, mind-blowing, huge – I’m running out of adjectives here – $19 billion. Last week, the company bought a little-known virtual-reality headset maker for $2 billion.
Those high-profile deals shouldn’t distract us from the fact that Facebook’s main business is selling advertising based on the mountains of information it’s got on its user base. And when I say “user base,” I mean me and you!
The targeting practices going on behind the scenes are both deep and complex. We the consumers have to stay on our toes to protect ourselves. It’s sad to say, but a lot of privacy violations occur just because people don’t know how to protect themselves.
These are great tips for you — and for your family. If there are kids in the house, make sure they understand the importance of these privacy protections early. And if there are less tech-savvy folks around, go over these tips with them, too.
So let’s get started.
First, you need to clear out your Facebook search history. Yes, it keeps track of all your searches. That’s the reality of the world we’re living in.
On your Facebook home page, click the down arrow in the upper right-hand corner, and select Activity Log. In the left-hand column where it lists Photos, Likes and Comments, click the More button below those. Then at the bottom of the list click Search.
Once you’ve clicked on that, you’ll be able to see everything – and everyone – you’ve search for on the site. (It’s kind of disturbing!) Up at the top of the page, click on Clear Searches, and then again in the dialog box to confirm.
The search area should now be empty. You can’t turn this feature off, however, so you will have to come back and do this regularly.
Did you know Facebook’s Graph Search system can expose your past posts to everyone? Learn how to keep strangers out of your posts.
Second, you want to make sure Facebook won’t use your picture to endorse or sell products. Believe it or not, Facebook’s terms of service allow your image to be automatically used if you’ve said you “liked” a particular product, or “checked in” at a particular store or restaurant.
To stop this, let’s go back to the Activity Log page and, again on the left-hand side, click on the Likes link. You’ll see all your likes listed.