Retrieve Facebook Data
I’ve heard a lot about Facebook and its use (or misuse) of my personal data. I’m a little uncomfortable posting anything, liking anything, or even responding to anything there, because of this data use. What do you recommend we do to safeguard our information?
Clearly, Doug and Ken are not Facebook fans. It’s possible/probable that we’re too old to really “get” social media, but we try. We really do. And Ken even bought into it for a while and posted a lot of personal stuff on Facebook. He “liked” a lot of things, posted personal information, enjoyed getting birthday greetings on the special day, posted notices about important life events, and more. But no longer.
As it has become clear that the folks at Facebook have no idea how to control the data that we post online, it’s also clear to us that Facebook is not a good place to post personal information. For example, if some nefarious character was looking for information about you, that person might start by looking at Facebook to retrieve your birthdate; given that information, the crook could start digging into other online records to find important personal information that identifies you.
So what do we suggest? Well, perhaps we’re a bit too paranoid, but we’d start by deleting all personal information, such as your birthday, school, work, and marital status. (And yes, we’ve done this.) Although this action doesn’t help with prior data scraping from Facebook, it makes it impossible for future information gathering to happen.
To get start, in a Web browser, head to Facebook.com, and click the little triangle in upper-right corner of the Facebook page. Select Settings. Look for your personal settings to remove all the personal info. In addition, in the Apps settings, turn off all Websites, Apps, and Games (and don't use them). Yes, we know that farm game was fun, but is it worth distributing even a tiny bit of information to those folks bent on stealing information about you from Facebook?
In the Security and Login section, make sure all information is available only to you, or to friends.
Finally, although it won’t help with data breaches, it’s useful to know what Facebook “knows” about you. Under the General settings, select Download a Copy of your Facebook data. You'll get two emails: One to confirm that Facebook is preparing your data, and another to let you know when the download is ready. In the second email, click the link to download your data. In the downloaded data, click on the index.html file to load it in a browser--this shows what Facebook knows about you. This information includes anything you’ve posted online, any photos you have uploaded, and more. If you uploaded a lot of data, the download can be quite large, so be prepared to wait. You may be surprised at how much Facebook has on you.
If you love Facebook, feel free to stay involved. But please, take a moment and clean up your security settings and remove any non-essential information. Do it before the next big data breach.