Around 10 years ago, Facebook was everything. No matter your interests, you could find like-minded people on Facebook to share your passion with. But that communication came at a price: your personal data. In recent years, we’ve realized to what extent Facebook was selling our data and generally invading our privacy. After the Cambridge Analytics scandal from March 2018 showed the extent Facebook was collecting our data, and mistreating it for financial gain.
In my youth, I was a terrible Facebook user, posting random thoughts which came into my head, sharing loads of personal information and sharing weird memes (or what passed for memes in 2010, anyway). In recent years, as my passion for security and privacy thrived, I’ve attempted to undo the damage my younger self did.
It’s now 2019, and my plan for this new year is to slowly go through my Facebook and clean it up as much as possible. I still use Facebook to see what friends are up to, and communicate with specific groups, so deleting my account isn’t an option.
#Cleaning up posts: Facebook memories
Facebook memories shows you things you did today on Facebook in previous years. Using this, you can go through things posted to your Facebook, and delete them, slowly but surely. Spending a minute or so a day over the course of a year to clean up Facebook really works! I’ve been doing this for just over two weeks, and I’ve already deleted 22 posts!
At the time of writing, I’ve liked 1507 pages, which is crazy! Many of these pages are inactive, and even more I don’t care enough about to have them clogging up my feed. Facebook lets you review pages you’ve liked, and quickly unlike them with a helpful wizard found at https://www.facebook.com/pages/?category=liked. Spending some time going through that can clean up your feed quite a bit, and ensure that you only see the posts you actually care about.
I personally don’t trust Facebook enough to expect them to actually remove the data that says I’ve liked a page in the past, whether they say they do or not. But it’s a start to cleaning things up.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal was caused by Facebook making too much data available to third-party apps. The list of apps which currently have permission to your data can be found at https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications. It’s takes but a minute to go through the apps, and delete the ones you don’t use. There’s no way of telling if those apps have already copied your data off Facebook, and are storing and selling it themselves, but at least they can’t get anything in future.
Facebook groups are an easy way to create a single feed of information for a single topic, but with stronger access controls than simply a page. You can check and leave groups here. Much like pages, the fewer groups you’re a member of, the less cluttered your feed will be.
#A 12 month review
I’m planning on following this all slowly over 2019, and hopefully by 2020 comes in, my Facebook account will be far less embarrassing than it currently is!
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