How Much Can You Control Access To Your Facebook Information?

Well, stuff is definitely hitting the fan now, isn’t it Facebook? You get called out when the world gets alerted that you messed up by allowing a company named Cambridge Analytica to access all sorts of personal information from around 2 billion people (ouch!), then you get called out because you’re possibly calls, texts, contacts and calendar of your mobile users, and then you went and made my friend Holly mad enough to delete Facebook for good… again. Y’all are in it deep now!

Actually, where privacy is concerned, most of us are in a morass in many ways. Not only us but our family members, some of whom aren’t even on the platform. That’s because it’s all tied into other properties like Instagram, those pages you visit that Facebook is connected to… on and on… as well as our participation on Facebook; shame on us… maybe…

Why maybe? Because it’s possible that some of you have followed my advice when it comes to what you share about family or taking precautions against using and doing certain things so Facebook can’t get to them. Let me share my story first.

Are we connected on Facebook? If not, try to find me there on Google or any of your own search engines. You can’t, can you? You won’t either. Facebook has a privacy setting for that, so only people you openly share your Facebook link with can find you. And if you don’t grant them access, or later on you remove them, they’re pretty much gone forever… unless someone else lets them in by sharing something you’ve put up.

While that’s always potentially problematic, I have a rule of thumb governing it; be open and truthful without sharing it all. For my personal feed, I have it sculpted so only people I want to see what I post will initially see it. Every once in a while someone sees something I posted because they’re connected to someone I’m connected to. Luckily, I don’t have a lot of people I’m worried about sharing anything with… just some folks I’d rather make it harder for them to see.

For instance, I don’t share my birthday; my wife’s name, Mom’s name or my home address. I’m not listed in the phone book (who still has one of those?) and very few people have my mobile number. My business website lists my PO box number and my business line. My business line can be tracked to my home address easily enough, but I’ve found that most people have no clue about how to do it. I’m not going to tell you if you don’t know, but even if you do, I’m not worried about anyone finding out. Trust me, you’ll stand out in this neighborhood and there’s a lot of nosy neighbors. lol

I share what I don’t mind being seen by anyone. I don’t drink or smoke or take drugs, and I’ve also never said a curse word; no worries about anyone seeing any salacious behavior from me. If I’m out of town I’m not worried about anyone sneaking up to the house and robbing me; I have nosy neighbors, an alarm system, and lights and cameras covering the back of the house (which is hard to get into anyway since it’s wooded, there are animals of all types out there) when I’m away… which isn’t happening as long as Mom’s here with me.

I don’t have Facebook on my phone; never have. I also don’t have Messenger on my phone; I hate being tracked, although Android gets to track me since I have a lousy sense of direction and need it to help me get where I need to go.

I’ve never gone to any websites and liked anyone’s Facebook link; I’ve never even considered it. I also can’t be tracked by Facebook as long as I’m using Firefox because I use an add-on called Facebook Tracking and Ad Removal. Any page connected to Facebook is automatically blocked; I’m covered! By the way, in case someone says “hey, your share button includes linking to Facebook”… no one’s ever clicked it and if someone wants to share something I wrote that way, who am I do say they can’t? šŸ™‚

The point I’m making is that if you want to be on Facebook for your own reasons and you’re worried about your privacy, you can do or don’t do things to help protect it. Nothing’s 100%; not even me being truthful to the masses (I’ll tell you what I want to tell you and that’s all!).

A good first step is learning how to set some privacy filters on their website. I know you think I’m going to tell you how to do it; nope! That’s because Holly (can’t believe she’s getting a 2nd mention) has already done it for you in a post from 2015 where she actually show you how to set your privacy settings. If you follow her instructions, then you go back and read the link above on how I’ve sculpted my Facebook feed, you’ll be at least 80% more private than you are now. And if you use Firefox or Chrome and add FB Purity to the mix, you’ll also be much happier.

There are a lot of articles telling people they should delete their Facebook accounts because of privacy issues. Trust me, if you’re alive and someone really wants to find you, they can pay for the information; so much for privacy. If you’re like my wife and have an anathema to social media in general, you’ll be just fine. If you’ve enjoyed some of your social media experience, just be diligent about it.

By the way, please visit my friend Rasheed Hooda’s blog also. Not only did he write about Holly, Ramama and myself but he’s also my first sponsor; yay! šŸ˜€

As for you Facebook… y’all behave yourself!

26 thoughts on “How Much Can You Control Access To Your Facebook Information?”

  1. I’m pretty much an open book.

    I think that the part people are missing is this: Facebook has it ALL. They have your “Me only” posts. They have your “Friends only” posts. They have your IMs, and if you use Messenger, most likely they also have your SMS and MMS messages. All of which may have been scraped up and exploited by third parties using much more sophisticated data mining tools than your nosy neighbor, Gladys. Add in a little regression analysis against aggregated social data about personality traits, things certain types of people are likely to like and share, and other data about how they behave and interact online, and they know you better than you know yourself.

    Don’t lull yourself into complacency by thinking you haven’t overshared. You may not have. But if you ever let an app weasel its way into your Friends’ profiles (which is very, very easy to do), then you’ve opened the back door to their privacy (potentially) as well. We know this is how imposter accounts operate. Apparently, CA was up to a bit of that, but with more intelligent staffers and goals.

    They could’ve scraped the web, for that matter. Honestly, unless it’s heavily encrypted, anything stored digitally and connected to the Internet is vulnerable.

    It can be scary to walk across the street, too. But someone takes you by the hand, when you’re small, and says, “Here’s how crossing the street works. Here’s what happens when a car hits your little body.” And they practice with you. Over and over, until you get it right, 99.9% of the time time. But it only takes that one time…

    Every year – some years, ever day – we learn of new online vulnerabilities and ways we can be abused online. It takes time to figure out solutions. The Equifax breach was arguably way worse in the long run, and what can we really do about that?

    I deactivated Facebook, by the way. I didn’t delete it. There’s no guarantee that the data would be inaccessible to anyone but me. Once deleted, the URL might be reused by someone with nefarious purposes, if they allowed it to be recycled like an old phone number. What’s there is there; what’s done is done. This is more of a boycott. I’m not giving them anything new. I’m not contributing to their illusion that the humans aren’t outnumbered by bots and fraudsters. I’m not playing on their playground, viewing their ads, or buying their disingenuous “our bad” videos. Nope. They can go delete themselves.

    1. Here’s the thing about me. I might have 15 or so people on my smartphone as contacts. I don’t give the number out, so if I had any apps on my phone in that regard it wouldn’t be all that invasive. Google is way more invasive if people created a G Plus page years ago; when I got my first Samsung Galaxy phone, I suddenly had over 400 people in my contact list along with their addresses and phone numbers; ouch! That was the one day I had a conniption because I knew it was linking my email address and possibly my smartphone number with that many people (I never put my smartphone anywhere online but Google owns Android so I fretted at the time).

      I can only control what I put on Facebook and anywhere else. I’m never lulled into complacency; I block things all over the place, I’m wary of giving out certain types of information… you can’t be a military kid who grew up during the Cold War and be a trusting sort. lol Firefox has a lot of apps that offer more protection than other browsers; it’s the reason I’ve stuck with them so long.

      We can’t run, we can’t hide, but we can make it harder for folk to get info. It’s the best we can do.

  2. BTW, as far as Google’s concerned, I sometimes search for weird stuff just to **** with them and anyone they let look. šŸ˜‰

    It’s what we writers do. We LIKE to freak people out with our search history while devouring banned books and figuring out how to write the next bestseller to be burned by the evangelicals.

  3. I just watched a video of the Singapore gov’t calling FB to task about .CA, or at least, the video was about them being smart enough to not let FB weasel out of it by suggesting that it is not the best use of the governing body’s time to grill them about their lies. Yes, the audacity!

    And thanks the shout out.

    1. Thanks for the sponsorship! šŸ™‚

      You know, part of me doesn’t totally blame Facebook. Sometimes I see them as a naive child who thinks that guy with the puppy they don’t really know is their best friend in the whole world. They’re products of their generation; we were a lot less trusting. I’m not sure if we’d created Facebook that it would have become as big as it did because of the self restrictions we’d have put on it; still, they need to start thinking a bit more about how their platform is being used by their “partners”.

  4. I’m a frequent Facebook user, in fact, my whole family is but this sure is a wake -up call not just for us but to all FB users. This is scary. Not sure if a lot of people are aware of this but you can now receive notification message through their messenger everytime you transact with Paypal. I accidentally hit the agree to button one day and ended up receiving notifications. I’m really more concern with Google than Facebook. I feel like Google has been following me around all the time. They really track your devices.

    1. I’m with you there. I don’t trust either of them but I trust Google less. They got rid of their own motto about not doing evil; to me that’s saying something. Your story helps to reinforce why I don’t have either Facebook or Messenger on my phone; they don’t need access to my private stuff… even if I only have a few private things on it.

  5. I don’t worry much about anything like this. My info was out there before FaceBook and they keep collecting more. Every time I use my credit card someone out there has a ton of information on me based on that transaction. We might limit our presence, but it’s probably impossible to stay completely off the radar.

    1. I only worry about what I can control. It’s a waste of time worrying about what others might do, as I know it would never be intentional. Pandora’s Box is open; there’s no closing it back.

  6. You don’t control anything on Facebook. When you visit it you compromise your security. But in a world that we live in today you have to compromise this kind of security if you want to socialize with others and that’s how it goes.

  7. Iā€™m a Facebook user, Not sure if a lot of people are aware of this but you can now receive notification message through their messenger. I feel like Google search has been following me around all the time.

  8. Amar, Google search does “follow you around” as what you’re searching for is valuable marketing data that they never promised not to sell, at least in the anonymous aggregate (that is, number of searches for x by region, user type, etc., but not with your name attached). They’re now a bit more protective of logged in users; I assume they HAVE the data, but they don’t just make it readily available to all and sundry like they used to.

    I would assume that any data you enter into the PC, that goes across the internet unencrypted, is readable individually or in the aggregate by machines and system administrators (most of whom are too overworked to bother or want to, frankly). This includes IMs, emails, search terms, what you post to Facebook or Twitter, and even what you start to type into Facebook but think better of posting (that’s creepy, but you see those little moving wavy dots that say the other person is typing?)

    There’s no real privacy on the Internet – just the illusion of it. We have a right, I think, to a certain duty of care from providers – that what we share is shared for agreed upon and reasonable purposes, and that what we believe is private (based on the platform’s security and privacy tools and messaging) is kept reasonably private and secure.

    Whether we think the rest is “creepy,” “stalkerish,” or whatever is immaterial. For every beneficial technological advance out there, there is a potential abuse and negative result. ALL platforms, regardless of our perception or loyalty, are subject to this. What I care about is whether they honestly and in good faith do what they say they will do or not do. It’s about the ethics or lack thereof. That’s what I care about.

  9. We cant actually control our all fb information as recently facebook leaks our data. It’s really bad for being an FB user these days. No privacy at all

    1. You can’t protect what you share but you can protect by not sharing as much. That way you still get all the benefits from being there without the worry.

    1. I knew those were your words when I finally got around to moving that comment to spam; darned Russian bots!

      What did you do to the comment system? lol

      1. Hahaha!!! Figured you’d recognize that!! Some plagarispammers have NO shame, I read that and actually did a double take. Knew you’d take care of them!

        As for your bouncer over there, that had to be the first time it’s ever accused ME of writing too few words. Spending too little time before adding a caboose to the comment-train, sure. I type fast. But even I never set minwords over 12 or so!!

        You just love it when I leave blog posts in your comments, I know.

    1. I’d agree that Facebook is doing things, but it’s their platform and it’s free. Ultimately it’s on us to protect ourselves as much as possible.

  10. It’s interesting to watch the debates over Facebook – is it good? A “necessary evil”? A sneaky, clever little rat? A behemoth monstrosity that’s out to undermine the world as we know it? LOL

    To some extent, we did agree to share some of our data with Facebook, and in turn allowed them to share some of that with 3rd parties – that vague “partners, affiliates, and other third parties” crap that is in just about every TOS we blithely refuse to read and then ignore.

    But just because we agreed to share ANONYMOUS data with advertisers, or let them drop some cookies (which we could clean off at will) to “target” us with ads, does not mean we agreed to let fake accounts target us with propaganda.

    Not that Facebook could necessarily STOP that from happening, if nefarious bad actors obtained the data lawfully and turned around and did bad things with it. Not that Facebook could STOP it from happening – but they didn’t need to FACILITATE it. We had an understanding. Zuck may not go to jail, but we can dislike him and refuse to put that sort of trust in ANYONE in the future.

    You know what I think I resent most? That all that personal data could be scraped and exploited, but we can’t keep our Facebook contacts – can’t export them – and close our accounts without losing them.

    Makes me want to go to Cambridge Analytica and say, “Hey, can you email me a .csv with all my Friend data, in a format I can store on my phone? Thanks, bro…”

    See, what I hate isn’t data mining (I do it professionally – but I swear I’m only up to GOOD things and I don’t even WANT to see personally identifiable info!!) but dishonesty and hypocrisy. You want to do psychological studies based on what I like/dislike and how I write? Fine. But INVITE ME and let me opt in or out. If you want to be truly liked, share your results at the end of the study. Don’t be a sneaky little sh**.

    1. In other words, don’t be evil! lol Actually, the only thing I had against Facebook, ever, was when they announced that they might use images we uploaded for ads being shown to other people. That one was a major violation of privacy in my opinion, and I’m glad they gave us a way to opt out of that.

      BTW, I bet Mitch knows how to get to all that data… ask him! lol

      1. Thanks for fishing me out of the Dumpster…again. Actually, it’s kind of cozy in there. I installed a banker’s lamp, a writing desk, and hooked a power strip to that outlet by the fire escape. The sounds from outside, in the dark, are truly inspirational – although I hadn’t really been PLANNING to write a supernatural murder mystery / romance involving giant mutant irradiated rats in heat…

        :: shrugs ::

        I assume you mean ask other Mitch and haven’t taken to talking about yourself in third person?

      2. I had to go look up banker’s lamp; didn’t know what it was. lol I have to admit this thing with the comments from Chrome going to trash or spam is driving me crazy. I keep researching it but I never find it because the search terms go to other problems. Like you though, one of these days I’m going to solve that mystery!

        Yes, I meant “him” lol

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