Facebook has hit the headlines recently after it was revealed Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, used personal data from 51 million Facebook members without permission to target them with political adverts in the run-up to the 2016 US election. Worse than that, it knew about the practice but failed to warn users it was happening.
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has now vowed to make the social network more secure by imposing tighter restrictions on the data app developers can access, along with a tool that will prominently display the apps you have given permission to access your data. In the meantime, there are some steps you can take to make your Facebook profile more secure and keep your personal data safe.
1. App permissions
Anytime you sign into an app or website using your Facebook login, you grant that app or website access to your data – everything from your email address and birth date to being able to post on your Facebook profile on your behalf. What permissions it has depends upon the app but it’s wise to review the list of apps on a regular basis and remove any you don’t recognise or use often.
This can only be done from a computer and not the Facebook app. Open Facebook and from the top right-hand corner use the drop-down arrow to select Settings. From the left-hand side choose Apps. You will see a list of every app you have granted access to your data. If you no longer use an app or recognise it, press the X to the right-hand side of the app icon to delete its permissions. Press the pencil to edit the permissions if you do sometimes use it.
Next scroll down to the section marked Apps others use and press edit. Apps that your friends use Facebook to log in to will potentially have access to everyone on their friend list (including you) depending on what permission they have granted. Any app that can see you on a friends list will also be able to access any data marked with a blue tick in this section, even though you yourself are not using the app. Our recommendation is to uncheck all the boxes and press Save to ensure your data is not being accessed by anyone with your knowledge. (If the Apps others use section is not available any more, simply go to the apps under Logged in with Facebook and click on the pencil to edit your permissions.)
It’s worth noting that deleting the app does not automatically delete any data they already have on you. To do this you must ask the developer to do this. Visit their website and drop them an email. You may also need your User ID number. This can be found by opening the apps you’re logged into section mentioned above and then tap the pencil icon. Scroll down to the section marked Get Help From The App Developers.
2. Turn off targeted advertising
Facebook not only uses the data you provide, such as your location or age, to personalise the adverts you see when you’re using the social network, it also uses what you do on the site, such as the pages you like or the links you click. You can tweak the specific advertisers, interests and personal information, such as Education, Relationship status or Employer, that are used to target you with adverts from the Advert Preferences dashboard.
3. Two-step login
To ensure no one can access your account without your knowledge, turn on Login Approvals. This means you will get a code sent to your mobile phone that you need to enter on the computer or other devices you’re trying to access Facebook from before you can get into your account.
If you’re opening Facebook on a computer, press the drop-down menu from the top right-hand side and select Settings, followed by Security and Login. Alternatively, if you’re using the Facebook app, select Settings from the menu, then Account Settings followed by Security and Login.
Tap the section marked Two-factor Authentication and then check the first box displayed. You’ll be asked to enter your password. Once that’s complete, check the mobile phone number listed is yours and press continue. You’ll receive a text message with a six-digit code to that phone that you must enter before the process is complete.
From: Good Housekeeping UK