Ever since last month’s big story on Cambridge Analytica and Facebook our social media channels, that never really felt private or secure, have started to feel downright sinister.
So what to do? If you’re like me, and not ready to miss out on clothing swap invites or distant family updates, there are some things you can do to lock down your social media channels.
This post is a round-up of some good articles I’ve recently read on the subject.
Disconnect third-party apps from Facebook
Electronic Frontier Foundation released a guide that helps you locate which apps are connected to Facebook. You can then select which ones you want to keep, or just disconnect all of them at once.
Electronic Frontier Foundation: How To Change Your Facebook Settings To Opt Out of Platform API Sharing
Stop using Google/Facebook as a login shortcut
I’m guilty of this. You’re signing up for a new service and it says “login with Facebook or Google account”. It feels like the easiest thing in the moment, but might not be worth it. Not only does it connect yet another service to your social media account, it makes remembering logins confusing. I end up wasting much more time later, when I inevitably forget how I signed up. A better solution is to always create a new account and use a password manager to remember your passwords. (Here’s my guide to setting up a password manager, if you want a quick primer.)
Keep Facebook separate from your internet habits
Mozilla’s new Firefox has a lot of great features (including Pocket, my favourite bookmarking tool). One of the extensions I use frequently is Multi-Account Containers – this allows me to login to multiple gmail accounts at once. After the latest Facebook scandal, Firefox released an update specifically to keep Facebook in a separate container so it can’t see any of your other internet habits. Get the Firefox Facebook container extension.
Want to be even more private? Use Firefox Focus, their new private browser that stores no internet history.
One of the key issues that the Cambridge Analytica scandal exposes is our social media bad habits. We’ve all seen articles that show how we are increasingly in our own bubbles, only reading and discussing issues we already believe and agree with. A great way to stop the spread of fake news is to stop spreading fake news. Before you retweet something: check if there’s a link and if it’s coming from a reputable source. Think twice before sharing something that aligns perfectly with your viewpoint and just reenforces your safe bubble. These and more tips can be found in this NYT op-ed.
New York Times Op Ed: How to Prevent Smart People from Spreading Dumb Ideas
Be better informed about media
If you want to be better informed about media there are a lot of great resources out there. My go-to source is usually a podcast. One of my favourite podcasts, Note To Self, ran two stories about Cambridge Analytica last year.
Note to Self: Deep-Dark-Data-Driven Politics (March 2017)
Note to Self: The Lawsuit that Could Shine A Light on Cambridge Analytica (Nov 2017)
Another great podcast on Canadian media is Canadaland.
Fight for better privacy regulations
I’ve saved the most important for last. This isn’t a user problem, this is a regulation problem. #deletefacebook won’t help us. Europe is using this as an opportunity to create better security and privacy regulation.
Open Media is working on this in Canada. They say this is the best chance we’ve had in a decade to update our privacy laws. Sign their petition here.
Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash