A Defensive Computing Checklist
by Michael Horowitz
No doubt there are many defensive strategies for Facebook (aka Meta), with the strongest one being avoidance. That's what I do. This section may be a bit haphazard because not being a Facebook user, I can't verify things.
- It is safer to use the Facebook website as opposed to their mobile app. Better yet, use private browsing mode. Better still, use the Facebook website from a Chromebook in Guest Mode.
- Get notified if a bad guy logs into you Facebook account with login alerts.
- 10 Facebook Marketplace Scams to Watch Out For by Tim Brookes for HowToGeek. February 2022. The scams covered are: Shipping Insurance, Sellers Requesting Payment in Advance, Sellers and Buyers Who Take the Transaction Elsewhere, Fake House and Apartment Rental Listings,
Car Deposit and Vehicle Purchase Protection, Stolen or Faulty Goods, Gift Cards, Identity Fraud and Personal Information Harvesting, Overpayment Refunds and, of course, Fake Goods.
- This article from Malwarebytes Labs, Facebook users targeted in massive phishing campaign, has a section with Tips to avoid Facebook phishing. by Christopher Boyd June 2022.
- How to block Facebook from snooping on you by Geoffrey Fowler for the Washington Post
(Aug 2021). Discusses changes that impact what Facebook and Instagram can learn about you outside of their apps.
There’s no escape from Facebook, even if you don’t use it also by Geoffrey Fowler (Aug 2021).
Discusses why you want to bother making all the changes in the prior article. Quoting: "It isn't just the Facebook app that's gobbling up your information. Facebook is so big, it has convinced millions of other businesses, apps and websites to also snoop on its behalf. Even when you're not actively using Facebook. Even when you're not online. Even, perhaps, if you've never had a Facebook account."
- Facebook's surveillance is hard to avoid. They partner with websites, apps and stores to track you when you are not using Facebook. Geoffrey Fowler of WaPo wrote about this in Jan. 2020: Facebook will now show you exactly how it stalks you - even when you’re not using Facebook. The article is focused on a new "Off-Facebook Activity" tool (see it at facebook.com/off_facebook_activity). To be spied on, you don't have to be logged in to the Facebook app or website. Companies can report other identifying information to Facebook, enough to match you to your Facebook account. Fowler found that Home Depot told Facebook when he visited its online store, viewed an item or added an item to a shopping cart. Other spies he found were The Atlantic, Amazon's Ring app, the Peet’s Coffee app and the website for an HIV drug.
To limit this: Settings -> Your Facebook Information -> Off-Facebook Activity -> Manage Your Off Facebook Activity -> Manage Future Activity. Still not done. Click another "Manage Future Activity" button. Curse Facebook. You want the toggle next to "Future Off-Facebook Activity" to be gray. If it is blue, click it, then click "Turn Off"
- Basic Privacy Settings & Tools from Facebook. Quite long. Undated.
- Giving Facebook less data is a good idea. Even better: Just use it less by Rob Pegoraro in Fast Company (June 2020). You can take some steps to limit how much Facebook knows about you. But as long as you use the service, it can monetize your interests and activity.
- To see information Facebook knows about your activity in other apps and on other websites, see Off-Facebook Activity. From Facebook, you can get to the same data with Settings -> Your Facebook Information -> Off-Facebook Activity. This was introduced in Jan. 2020. Fowler (above) suggests clicking on "Clear History" to remove that data. To have Facebook stop using your off-Facebook activity,
look for "Manage Future Activity" and then make sure "Future Off-Facebook Activity" is turned off. Note the word "using" - they will still collect the data.
- See the devices that are logged in to your account here. It should also show approximately where in the world those devices are located.
- FACEBOOK CONFIGURATION ARTICLES
- 16 Settings to Make Facebook Less Evil (or at Least More Private)
by Pranay Parab for Life Hacker (Nov 2021)
- Facebook privacy settings to change now Washington Post (Sept. 2021)
- 7 Important Facebook Privacy Settings to Change Right Now by Tim Brookes (June 2021). The article covers: Delist Your Profile from Search Engines, Make Your Friends List Private, Restrict Visibility of Your Older Posts En Masse, Enable Timeline Review, Disable Facial Recognition, Restrict How You Are Found on Facebook, Review Connected Apps and Websites and Preview How Others See Your Profile.
- Cybersecurity 101: Protect your privacy from hackers, spies, and the government by Charlie Osborne and Zack Whittaker of ZDNet (Dec. 2020) has some tweaks for Facebook settings.
- How to Use Facebook Privacy Settings by Thomas Germain of Consumer Reports. Last updated Sept. 2019.
- How To Stop Facebook From Blabbing Out Your Phone Number by Monica
Chin (March 2019)
- Hands off my data! 15 default privacy settings you should change right now by Geoffrey Fowler in Washington Post (June 2018).
Suggestions from the article:
- In Timeline settings turn on the option to review posts you are tagged in before the post
appears on your timeline. Settings -> Timeline and Tagging -> Review section -> enable both options.
- In the Facial Recognition settings, set "Do you want Facebook to be able to recognize you in photos and videos?" to No.
- In the Ad Preferences settings: Under Your information, turn off
ads based on your relationship status, employer, job title and education. Under Ad settings, set "Ads based on data from partners" and "Ads
based on your activity on Facebook Company Products that you see elsewhere" to Not allowed. Also, set "Ads that include your social actions" to No One.
- The Facebook Privacy Checkup is incomplete. Your profile information should be set to "Friends of Only Me" which, in English, means private. Also, set "Future Posts" and "Stories" to "Friends" and click the button for "Limit Past Posts" and select "Limit"
- Check the Facebook Privacy Shortcut
- Configure: In Settings --> Your Facebook Information --> Access Your Information --> Profile Information --> About --> Contact and Basic Info, set your birthday to "Only Me"
- CONFIGURE FACEBOOK: Privacy Settings:
- Profile and Tagging -> Reviewing. set both item to On
- Change "Who can see your friends list" from Public to Friends or Only me.
- Consider only letting friends see your posts rather than making them public.
- Consider changing who can send you friend requests. It defaults to Everyone. Another option is "Friends of Friends."
- Consider restrictions for "How people can find and contact you."
- Turn off Location and Face recognition.
- Set the default privacy setting for future posts to "Friends".
- Restrict the visibility of your past posts to Only Friends with "Limit The Audience for Old Posts on Your Timeline" -> Limit Last Posts. Anything that was shared publicly or with friends of friends will be changed.
- Set your phone number "Friends" or "Only Me"
- At Ads -> Ad Settings there is much to change. Under "Categories used to reach you" de-select all details about yourself. Remove anything under "Interest categories" and "Other categories". Set "Ads shown off Facebook" to "Not Allowed". Under "Social" select "Only me" for who can see what ads you have liked.
- Clearview AI does facial recognition and was profiled in the New York Times (Jan. 2020). They copy pictures from many sources including Facebook. To block them, change a privacy setting, so that search engines can not link to your profile.
- Configure: For help configuring Facebook for maximum privacy, consider the Jumbo mobile app. There are links to it in both the iOS and Android topics.
- Don't share: your birthday, your current location or that you will be away from home for a while.
- Goes without saying: use a long password for Facebook, and one that you do not use anywhere else.
- In Ad Preferences you can see how Facebook has categorized you.
- Location: How to disable Facebook location tracking by Jack Wallen (Oct 2019). Understanding Updates to Your Device’s Location Settings by Facebook (Sept 2019) is about new Location settings in Android 10 and iOS 13. How to stop Facebook from tracking your location by Lori Gil (March 2018). Thinking bigger, see the section here on Location Tracking.
- PERIODIC FACEBOOK MAINTENANCE:
- The Facebook Settings page is always changing so review it from time to time.
- Remove old devices that still have access to your account at the Security and Login page, in the Where You're Logged In section.
- Remove old apps that still have access to your account at the Apps and Websites page. Settings -> Apps and Websites.
- Mozilla created a Facebook container extension for Firefox. They claim it prevents Facebook from tracking you around the web. What it can not do, is block Facebook tracking on iOS or Android.
- Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you by Dylan Curran for The Register (March 2018)
- From John Opdenakker (Oct. 2019). If you get a friend request from someone you don't know it's better not to accept it. This might be a scam and your online security and privacy might be in danger. Facebook friends can see all your profile information and even information about your friends. They can abuse this information to scam you and your friends.
- DELETING FACEBOOK CONTENT
- QUITTING FACEBOOK:
- From Facebook: Deactivating or Deleting Your Account. They say that a deleted account will have all the posts and photos removed after a few days. They say.
- You've decided to quit Facebook. Here’s how to migrate your online life elsewhere. Washington Post (Oct 2021)
- How to Permanently Delete Your Facebook Account by Brian Barrett of Wired (Oct 2021). Also has info on downloading your data beforehand. The final section How to Limit Facebook Tracking You is un-informed.
- Smashing Security podcast episode 75: Quitting Facebook with Graham Cluley, Carole Theriault and Maria Varmazis. (April 2018)
- Background: A Guided Tour of the Data Facebook Uses to Target Ads by Bennet Cyphers of the EFF (Jan 2019). Not much defense offered.
- Background: How Facebook and Other Sites Manipulate Your Privacy Choices by Arielle Pardes in Wired (Aug 2020). The article is about how companies use Dark Patterns (confusing language, manipulative interface design) to trick people into saying yes, when they want to say no. One cited example is the Facebook Privacy Checkup.
This section is a bit like reminding people that water is wet. Goes without saying. Still, a few reminders:
In October 2020, Leo A. Notenboom had to take a break from Facebook. Quoting: "The divisiveness, the anger, the misinformation, the legions of otherwise rational people ready and willing to accept piles and piles of manure as truth ... become too much" He wrote about using Feedly and RSS as a substitute in My Solution to Social Media Overload.
If You're Not Terrified About Facebook, You Haven't Been Paying Attention by Carole Cadwalladr of The Guardian (July 2020)
In August 2019 we learned that Facebook Paid Contractors to Transcribe Users' Audio Chats (Bloomberg) just like all the providers of Voice Assistants. Contractors (it's always contractors, never employees) transcribed audio from people who opted in to having their Messenger app voice chats transcribed.
Facebook inflated the average time users viewed video on the platform. Facebook to Pay $40M Under Proposed Settlement in Video Metrics Suit October 2019. Professor Scott Galloway summed this up: The viewership metrics were inflated by 150 to 900%. Whole companies shifted their strategy to video. Companies going bankrupt, people losing jobs, FB gets away with 0.18% of annual income ($40M / $22B), a slap on the wrist.
Quite a quote about Facebook: "morally bankrupt pathological liars who enable genocide (Myanmar)" (ZDNet April 2019)
Facebook does not remove bad guys until they are publicly shamed in a high profile way (Brian Krebs, April 2019)
Mark Zuckerberg leveraged Facebook user data to fight rivals and help friends, leaked documents show NBC News April 2019
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