The Lumberjack

Protect your profile

Illustration by Jen Kelly.

In light of data breaches, maintain some privacy.

Facebook gives away your information. Twitter, Instagram and Google do it too. So do most of your other social media apps and websites.

Everything you search, click or talk about ends up being sent somewhere to someone and it’s usually to advertisers, sometimes it is to a political research company like Cambridge Analytica.

After the Cambridge Analytica breach of Facebook information of over 50 million users, the time to understand your Facebook settings is now. Social media is a giant presence in our daily lives and though taking back some privacy seems difficult, it is not impossible.

According to the Guardian, Facebook used to be able to ask for your information, but it really has access to all of your friends’ information as well, just by taking a quiz. They no longer allow this to happen, but you can still make sure you’re not sharing more than you want with others.

“That means that around 300,000 people could sign up for a personality test quiz, and in the process hand over information of 150 times that number,” The Guardian article said.

The Guardian goes on to explain that you’re probably handing over more information than you bargained for, even though they no longer mine you for your friends’ information.

When you sign into your Facebook account, go up to the top right of your screen and hit the drop-down arrow. In that drop-down menu, click on settings and find your “Apps and Advertising” pages on the left hand side.

This is where you can control some of what you share with advertisers and pages that are data mining your info, and still find out which Gilmore Girls character you’re most likely to fall in love with.

On the apps page, sort through the lists of apps accessing your info and change permissions or delete access entirely. On this page you can also change how you interact with these apps, pages and games that ask for you information as well as change privacy settings on older versions of Facebook. You can also deny pesky game request notifications here as well.

Accessing the ads page will neatly lay out the information ads are using to cater to you, what business you’ve interacted with and what ads you do or don’t want to see. Spend some time checking out these settings, and figuring out what does and does not bother you.

If you’ve got extra time, Facebook also has an informational page on why advertising is important and what advertisers are looking for when they get your information. There are more options here to adjust your advertising experience.

The reality is, escaping social media data mining is difficult for a generation who is always tuned in and constantly sharing. These are some options on how to combat your information from being too available on Facebook, and protecting what Facebook does and does not offer to third parties.

Just like writing something on paper, the internet is permanent. You can remove your information from your profile as well, but these social media apps and programs will still have this information on file.

A more extreme and definite alternative? Delete Facebook and your other social media apps. We as journalists do not fully stand behind deleting social medias in order to stay informed.

However, we believe there are benefits to maintaining privacy or removing yourself from social media. We also understand it is difficult to remain informed in today’s digital era when you make these decisions.

Explore the settings in other social media apps, and discover how much of you they are giving to outside companies and take back some of your privacy.