Facebook has a shocking amount of your personal data. Your location, contacts, your web activity, your likes, dislikes and so on. And as we’ve been finding out recently, Facebook is not particularly strict about who has access to this data and how it’s used inside the company itself.
The best option is to delete your Facebook account. But that’s not possible for everyone. So what you can do instead is disable access to third apps, stop sharing posts publicly and hide or change your public facing profile information.
If you want to more control over your privacy and your data, follow the steps outlined below.
Revoke Access to Third Party Apps
Facebook’s login buttons are everywhere. And the pitch is hard to ignore for most people. Press a button and you can instantly login to any new app or website. No new password to remember, no email to confirm.
While the feature is seamless, the problem is that Facebook does way more than just authenticate your identity, it shares it with the third party. If you log in using Facebook, a third party app can get access to your email, phone number, and your entire contact list. They can even post automatically to your Facebook feed. You’ve probably got dozens or hundreds of services connected to your Facebook account, most you probably don’t know of or remember. Took a silly quiz 5 years ago on Facebook? That app still has access to your data and your profile.
It’s time to remove all these apps and services, especially ones you don’t use.
To bulk remove access to apps and websites, open the Facebook app, go to the More tab and select Settings & Privacy -> Account Settings -> Apps and Websites -> Logged in with Facebook and check all the apps you want to remove. Then tap on the Remove button from the top.
Use Facebook’s Privacy Checkup Tool on iPhone
Facebook’s new Privacy Checkup tool lets you quickly control privacy settings for your posts, your profile and your apps.
Step 1: Open the Facebook app, go to the menu tab and then tap on Settings & Privacy and select Privacy Shortcuts.
Step 2: From this screen, tap on the Privacy Check-up.
Step 3: From the next screen, tap on Continue.
Step 4: The first step is to control your Posts. From the drop done, select who sees your posts. If it’s set to Public, change it to Friends. You can even create a different group of people that way your posts are only shared with your close friends or family members.
Step 5: The next screen is about your Profile. Here, you’ll see a list of everything that’s listed on your profile. If you don’t want Facebook to know anything about you, remove everything from here. Your phone number, where you went to school, where you worked and so on. You can also choose to keep it private so it’s not visible on your page. To do this, select the Only Me option from the drop-down.
Step 6: In the Apps step, you’ll see a list of all the connected apps. Tap on the X button to remove an app. Do this for all apps available. If you have more than a hundred apps, you’ll need to do the wizard multiple times.
Revoke Apps Access From the Web
Using the Facebook website to remove app access is quicker.
Step 1: Open the Facebook website, click on the down arrow and select Settings.
Step 2: Click on the Apps and websites tab.
Step 3: Check the apps you want to delete and then click on the Remove button from the top.
Stop Uploading Contacts to Facebook
If at one point you gave Facebook access to your contacts, it’s possible that Facebook has been uploading new contacts in the background constantly. You can disable this feature from the Facebook or Facebook Messenger app.
In the Facebook app, go to the More tab, select Settings & Privacy -> Account Settings -> General -> Upload Contacts and turn the feature off.
To do this from Facebook Messenger, tap on your Profile picture and tap on People. From here, turn off the Sync Contacts option.
Disable Facebook Apps Platform
If you’re sure you don’t need to use Facebook to log into any important website, you can go ahead and disable the entire Facebook Apps Platform. This way, you won’t be tempted to try and sign up for a new website using Facebook. Before you do this, you should check if there is any service you’re using that only works with a Facebook sign in.
Step 1: From the Facebook app, go to Menu -> Settings -> Apps.
Step 2: Here, Tap on Apps near the bottom of the section, select Apps, websites and games.
Step 3: Tap on the Turn off button.
Turn off Microphone Access
While Facebook has outright denied listening in on your conversations, sometimes it feels like Facebook is doing just that. An ad will appear for something right after you’ve talked about it. If you can’t shake the feeling and want to protect yourself anyway, the remedy is simple. Just turn off microphone access to Facebook. This is a reliable method because it’s iOS who’s responsible for blocking access, not the Facebook app itself.
Step 1: Open the Settings app and go to Privacy section.
Step 2: Tap on Microphone, find Facebook from the list and turn off the access from here. If you use Facebook Messenger, do the same for that as well.
If you use the Facebook website in Safari, you can turn off microphone access for Safari itself from Settings.
From the Settings app, go to Safari and turn off the Camera & Microphone feature.
Stop Using Nearby Friends Feature
Facebook has a feature called Nearby Friends. Its the feature that notified you when a friend has checked into a nearby place. It’s meant to be a feature that brings people together. What it ends up being is creepy and mainly, a way for Facebook to record your every move. If this feature is turned on, Facebook has complete access to all your location details. It can track everywhere you go.
It’s best to disable this feature. From the More tab, select Nearby Friends and turn this feature off.
Turn Off Location Services
It’s fun to check into restaurants and places on Facebook. It’s by far the best way to make your friends jealous. I highly recommend you use this feature tactically. The problem is that to use the check-in feature, you need to give Facebook access to Location Services on iPhone. This means access to your GPS location. And of course, once granted access, Facebook uses this in the background, at all times. Let’s revoke that.
Step 1: Go to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services and select Facebook.
Step 2: Tap on Never.
Delete Location History
Once you’ve disabled Location Services, it’s time to delete all the location information that Facebook has about you.
Step 1: Go to the More tab, select Settings & Privacy and then select Activity Log.
Step 2: From Categories tab, select Location History.
Step 3: From the top of the list, tap on Clear Location History.
Enable 2 Factor authentication
This one is more about protecting your own Facebook account so it’s not easily hacked and exploited. 2 Factor Authentication is when you need something more than a password to log in. It can be a code generated from the Facebook app or a code sent to your phone using SMS.
Facebook’s implementation of this feature is a bit weird and depends on you having the Facebook app running to generate codes. But SMS is always a fallback option, even if it’s difficult to spot.
Step 1: From the More tab, select Settings and Privacy -> Account Settings -> Security and Login.
Step 2: Tap on Use two-factor authentication.
Step 3: Tap on the checkbox next to Two-Factor authentication to enable the feature. You’ll be asked to type in the password and your phone number. You’ll also get a set of 10 backup codes. Save them in a safe place.
Step 4: Next time you try to log into Facebook, you’ll be asked to enter a code. To find the SMS option, click on the more options button.
Delete the App, Use the Website
Simply deleting Facebook’s app will solve many privacy issues. Facebook won’t be able to follow you around, it won’t have access to your contacts, microphone or your location. Plus, using Facebook using Safari will help you reduce your Facebook usage as well.
If you want Facebook to stop following your online activity, make sure you only use Facebook in a privacy-focused browser like Firefox on iOS. On the web, you can use Firefox’s Facebook Container extension that blocks your web activity from Facebook. On iOS, you can use a content blocker like 1Blocker to block Facebook’s cookies and trackers online.
What are your tips for protecting your privacy on Facebook? Share with us in the comments below.