Just a couple of months ago, the world was shocked by the Cambridge Analytica revelation how over 87 million Facebook users got their information harvested and used in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. As we all know, privacy is a huge problem, so millions of people were left wondering what they can do to ensure the safety of their personal data.
This is still a huge issue, because most Facebook users still don’t know how to use this. Some experts said that the only solution is to delete your Facebook profile. However, since most people are simply used to using the platform on a daily basis, deleting their profiles wasn’t exactly the perfect way out. So what can you actually do?
Was This Really a Data Breach?
Let’s start with the basics – the first question on everyone’s mind is – was this scandal even a data breach? While you should expect Facebook to handle your data carefully, you still agreed to the terms and services when you created your profile.
That means, the Cambridge Analytica scandal wasn’t really a data breach. The terms and services you signed on allow 3rd-party companies and applications to use some of your data, if the company or the app is backed by the social network’s infrastructure.
This happens through the use of Facebook’s API.
How Does the Facebook API Work?
Although some of you aren’t aware of it, marketing agencies often collect the data of social media users to build their social media archives. Subsequently, they use this data to create user profiles and design marketing campaigns aimed at a specific user demographic.
This data collecting technique still isn’t exactly widespread, due to the fact that Facebook’s API is not well documented. API documentation is there to explain how the developers can implement the API in their applications and add certain features. While an average developer today will use a modern API documentation creator to generate and update the documentation, some people do the job manually.
That’s why some APIs out there – like Facebook’s Graph API – are often outdated, with certain areas that don’t match the API. This is actually good for the users, since most marketing agencies still don’t use the API to harvest your data.
How to Prevent API Sharing?
Luckily for you, there’s a way you can prevent companies and agencies from collecting and using your data. The general public isn’t aware of this, of course, which is why you see so many so-called experts recommending you delete your profile.
What’s more, you don’t need to have any tech knowledge to do it – all you need to do is to go into your account settings and you’ll be able to change your privacy settings. If you want to keep your account completely private, you can also sever all of your connections to any 3rd-party apps. But we should warn you that this will prevent you from logging into your favorite sites with your Facebook profile.
Step-by-step guide for changing your privacy settings
- First off, you need to find the settings menu in the right upper corner
- There, you’ll find a section named Apps, Websites, and Plugins
- Click on Edit and you’ll get a pop-up menu
- When you enter the menu, you’ll see the Disable Platform button
- Click on that button and you’ll sever any connections to 3rd-party apps
However, if you want to keep the Platform features but still improve the privacy of your data, you need to do the following:
- Go to settings and look for the Apps Other Use section
- Click on the section and you’ll see a new pop-up menu
- Here, you’ll be able to determine what data can these 3rd-party apps collect
- From there, check and uncheck the boxes you want (Bio, Birthday, Location, etc.)
- And with that, you’re all done
The Bottom Line
Although the scandal wasn’t a data breach per se, it still opens up a lot of questions about how ethical Facebook really is. The company probably won’t make too many changes on how it lets 3rd-party apps to harvest user data. For that reason you should definitely take advantage of all of these privacy options the social network provides.