It all started with the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Then there were many more revelations throughout the year including this story which revealed Facebook was giving certain companies far greater access to user data than it had previously disclosed, this story which showed Facebook was using the phone numbers people submit for two-factor authentication to target them with ads, and this study which highlighted that Facebook was collecting data from the users of many popular Android apps, even if those users didn’t have a Facebook account.
Because Facebook tracking code is so deeply embedded in many popular app and websites and we don’t have all the details of how it collects data, there’s no way to definitively prevent all Facebook tracking. However, the following steps can be used to greatly minimize this tracking based on what we know about Facebook’s data collection practices.
1. Delete Your Facebook Account
The quickest and easiest way to stop voluntarily submitting data to Facebook is to delete your Facebook account and then delete all the Facebook apps from your devices. By deleting your account and these apps, you’ll stop handing over large amounts of data to Facebook and instantly improve your privacy.
2. Update Your Privacy Settings on Facebook
While deleting your Facebook account is the best way to stop voluntarily handing over data to Facebook, it may not be practical if you have friends or family members that you want to stay connected with on Facebook.
An alternative option is to update your Facebook privacy settings. This will greatly reduce the amount of data you share with Facebook while using its services.
However, if you go with this option, you will still be voluntarily sharing some data with Facebook. Therefore, while it’s a good short-term solution, you should ideally be encouraging your friends and family members to get off Facebook so that you can delete your account for good.
3. Use a VPN
In its documentation on location privacy, Facebook says that it uses information from your IP address, Wi-Fi connection, device’s GPS signal, and other information about your Internet connection to understand your location. By obscuring your IP address with a virtual private network (VPN), you can limit the location data Facebook collects.