Facebook Data Privacy

Like skinny jeans, Facebook makes you share more than perhaps you ought to. It’s time to take a hard look at what you’re putting out there.

facebook settings

(Note: Facebook is rolling out new privacy settings on its mobile apps - but you may have not gotten them yet. They change the location of some controls on your phone, but don’t change your choices.)

  • Anyone can see all your Facebook friends and all the weird pages you follow. That includes employers, stalkers, identity thieves and quite possibly your mother.
    On your phone’s Facebook app, tap the button with three lines, then scroll to Settings & Privacy, then tap Settings, and then Privacy Settings. Or use this link on the Web. Then switch Who can see your friends list from Public to Friends - or, even better, Only me.
    Do the same on that same page with a separate setting for Who can see the people, Pages and lists you follow.
    What you give up: Strangers being able to hunt you down or discover your interests.
  • I know what you did last summer… because when people tag you in a photo or post, it automatically shows up on your timeline.
    In the Facebook app under Settings & Privacy, then Settings, then Timeline and Tagging (or at this link on the Web) switch On the option Review posts you’re tagged in before the post appears on your timeline.
    What you give up: Letting others post on your behalf - at least until you approve each post.
  • Your face belongs to Facebook. By default, it scans all the photos and video you share to create digital face IDs - unless you tell them hands off your mug.
    In the Facebook app under Settings & Privacy, then Settings, then Face Recognition (or at this link on the Web) switch to No under Do you want Facebook to be able to recognize you in photos and videos?
    What you give up: Facebook won’t recommend tagging you in photos, and won’t give you a heads up when someone else posts a photo of you.

facebook ad settingsDon’t give it all away to Facebook advertisers, either. Reminder: Each member in North America was worth $82 in advertising to Facebook in 2017.

  • Advertisers can use very personal data to target you, making Facebook ads even creepier than they have to be.

In the Facebook app’s Settings & Privacy menu, tap Settings, then Ad Preferences (or use this link on the Web). Then tap open the section called Your information. There, switch Off ads based on your relationship status, employer, job title and education.

While you’re in Ad Preferences, head down to Ad settings and switch to Not allowed for Ads based on data from partners and Ads based on your activity on Facebook Company Products that you see elsewhere.
What you give up: More “relevant” ads, which is more of a problem for advertisers than for you


  • Surprise, you’re starring in Facebook ads! Did your cheque not arrive in the post? Oh right: Just by “liking” a page, you give Facebook advertisers permission to use your name in ads they show your friends - and you don’t get a centimo.
    On your computer or phone under Settings & Privacy, then Settings, then Ad Preferences (or at this link on the Web) tap open Ads Settings and switch to No One the setting for Ads that include your social actions.

What you give up: Use of your name by a company you might not actually care very much about.




Further reading: Accessing your Facebook Data - the 71 types of information FB keeps about you.