The Cambridge Analytica fiasco wasn’t really a data breach. Everything collected was allowed by Facebook’s Terms of Service. So, how can you protect yourself against these sort of things?
The real problem here is Facebook’s API and platform. By logging into the Cambridge Analytica quiz app, Facebook users willingly (though probably unwittingly) gave up information about themselves and their Facebook friends. So, unless you’re going to go all in and delete your account, you need to address how much of your information third-parties can access with the Facebook API.
Head to Facebook, click the downward facing arrow in the top right, and then click the “Settings” option.
On the sidebar, switch to the “Apps” category. You can also go directly to this link.
There are two options we’re interested in here: “Apps, Websites and Plug-Ins,” and “Apps Others Use.”
The “Apps, Websites and Plugins” setting controls whether you can use Facebook for third-party apps at all. You can only turn it on or off. To do so, click the “Edit” button under that section, and then click the “Disable Platform” button.
The problem is that a lot of sites and services use Facebook to verify logins. If you turn it off completely, you won’t be able to log in to things like your Spotify account. If you’re really serious about making sure third-parties can’t get your data, you can disable it, but for the most part, you’re better off being careful with which apps you give your Facebook data to and removing any you no longer use.
The better option is to limit what data of yours third-parties can get from the apps your friends use. To do that, click the “Edit” button under the “Apps Others Use” section.
The checkboxes here control what third-parties can get when your friends log in to their apps. For example, if one of my friends had logged into the quiz (and I had things set up the way they’re shown in the image above), Cambridge Analytica could have my Bio, Birthday, Family and Relationships, Home Town, Current Location, Education and Work, Activities, Interests and Likes, App Activity Website, and whether or not I’m Online. That’s a hell of a lot of info.
To stop your friends inadvertently sharing all this stuff about you, turn off all the options, and then click the “Save” button.
Now, as long as you’re careful with which apps you use, third-parties aren’t going to end up with your data. If they already have it, there’s not a lot you can do, but at least you’re protected from future issues.
Image credit: Clint Adair.