If you’ve been following the news stories about Cambridge Analytica obtaining private user data from Facebook, you might be wondering how that happened and assuming it’s a breach of trust by Facebook – or someone.
The reality is that you’ve done it to yourself. Remember being in a rush that time and allowing some wacky application to access to your Facebook profile? Well, that’s how the application creators harvested accounts’ private info. They access the info and then typically sell it to anyone that wants to buy it. Which is exactly how Cambridge Analytica and hundreds of other companies legitimately purchase the data.
In the ‘old days’ this was how you got paper junk mail. Each magazine or record club you subscribed to readily sold their subscriber list on the market. So the next thing you know you’re getting 8 flower and seed catalogs every spring. It’s just much worse with computer data as there is so much more of it.
OK, so how do you turn off access in Facebook? Fortunately it’s easy.
To stop applications and websites accessing your profile, consider turning off Facebook Platform, which connects accounts to services. Click the down arrow in the top-right of FB and select Settings. Click Apps in the left side menu. Go to Apps, Website and Plugins, click Edit and then Disable Platform.
Bear in mind you may then be unable to log into sites that you use FB for access and some linked apps won’t work.
And the bigger takeaway is that you should be honest with yourself and acknowledge that you won’t read all the fine-print legalese that’s available from every app and site. Deep in those documents you’ll find that by installing the application you are granting access to all your data on that site – in this case Facebook. So maybe it’s a good idea not to put any personal info there.
Everyone be careful out there!