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Social media

Shocking internal document is reason enough to ditch Facebook for good

Facebook collects a ton of data on your habits and online activities. That much almost everyone is aware of. It isn’t the only company that builds a user profile with your information, as Google, Amazon and even Twitter use data to serve you better results.

The sites scrape the information together from anything you interact with, whether products, your friends, or businesses you buy from. Once a profile of your habits has enough data points, it is often passed on to third-party advertisers.

Most of the services know where that data goes. But read on to see what makes Facebook’s data collection extremely dangerous.

Here’s the backstory

Four years ago, Facebook got raked over the coals after discovering that Cambridge Analytica stole the data of millions of Facebook users through a third-party app. The subsequent probe involved the FBI, the SEC and the Justice Department.

At the time, the social media giant claimed that it didn’t know about Cambridge Analytica’s activities. However, not knowing where your data is used seems to be a central theme, as a leaked document reveals that Facebook doesn’t know where the user data comes from or where it is stored.

As more countries enforce stricter data privacy regulations, Facebook engineers penned a report that bluntly admits that the social media platform won’t be able to agree to certain conditions because it doesn’t know what happens with its data.

The document’s executive summary notes, “We do not have an adequate level of control and explainability over how our systems use data, and thus we can’t confidently make controlled policy changes or external commitments.”

It goes on to say that Facebook can’t agree not to use specific data, yet “this is exactly what regulators expect us to do.”

What you can do about it

Even by Facebook’s standards, the report is shocking. The engineers argue that it will “require additional multi-year investments” if Facebook wants to know how user data is collected, used and released.

What does this mean for you? If Facebook can’t figure out how your data is used or where it’s coming from, who else has access to it?

This is the exact scenario that brought about the Cambridge Analytica bombshell. A “multi-year investment” would also mean taking years to comply with new data privacy laws or regulations.

Had enough of Facebook? You should download a copy of your data first before doing anything else. It downloads all your photos, contacts, activity and posts to your device. Here’s how to do that on your computer:

  • Click on the down arrow in the top right of Facebook.
  • Select Settings & Privacy, then click Settings.
  • In the left column, click Your Facebook information.
  • Next to Download your information, click View.
  • Below Select file options, click Date range and select All time.
  • Under Select information to download, tick the categories of data that you want to keep.
  • Then, click Request a download.

Facebook will take some time to gather all the data, but once it is ready, it will show up in the Available copies section of the Download your information tool. Click Download and enter your password to complete the process.

How to delete your Facebook account

If you want to delete your Facebook account, be aware that it is different from deactivating it, which just puts your account on pause or in a suspended state. People can’t see your timeline or message you, and you can reactivate it at any time.

Deleting your account is permanent, and you won’t have access to it anymore after a few days.

Here’s how to delete your Facebook account (after you downloaded a copy of your data):

  • From your main profile, click the down arrow in the top right.
  • Select Settings & Privacy, then click Settings.
  • Click Your Facebook information in the left column.
  • Then, click View next to Deactivation and deletion.
  • Choose Delete Account, then click Continue to account deletion.
  • Finally, click Delete Account, enter your password and click Continue.

Remember that an account deletion request is canceled if you log back into your profile less than 30 days since initiation.

Keep reading

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