Facebook hacking checklist: how to protect your data

Limit how much information Facebook gathers about you.

The Facebook / Cambridge Analytica saga is likely to roll on for a while yet, but there’s so reason you shouldn’t be taking action now to protect your data.

Though this time the harvested data was used to try influence people’s beliefs, scammers can also use your data to hack your personal accounts – and steal your money.

I’ve written about oversharing on social media but that is more about what you post. This guide instead is about what you’re not aware you’re giving away.

Follow the steps in this checklist to ensure you’re not sharing more information about yourself than you should.

1. Check if your data was compromised by Cambridge Analytica

Facebook is notifying the 87 million people whose data was shared with CA, but you can check if you are in that group here too.

2. Remove access to apps you don’t use

Cambridge Analytica was able to steal information by grabbing data from apps you or your friends gave permission to. In this scandal is was one of those silly personality quizzes. but even if you avoid those you’ll be surprised just how many times you’ve given permission away.

You can turn this functionality off completely, but that will stop you using your FB login on other sites (not all are bad).

You can check the apps by going to settings, then apps. You’ll be able to remove any you no longer want to use. You should also “edit” those you want to keep to make sure they don’t have more access (eg your date of birth, friends list etc) than you want, though it won’t make them delete data they already hold on you.

3.Download the data Facebook holds on you

This is pretty scary. All your Facebook and Facebook Messenger conversations, even deleted ones, are there, along with everything you’ve posted on your or others walls.

Even more frightening is how much of your friends’ data is there, including all their phone numbers if you’ve synced to your phone – and that means your data will be on their FB records too!

Download it via settings, general and then click the link “Download a copy of your Facebook data”.

If you want to reduce what data FB holds on you, you can limit the access you provide. I’ll explain more in the next steps.

4. Limit who sees your page and posts

Let’s face it, we’ve all done a little Facebook stalking. From checking out someone you’re dating to hunting down old friends. But if someone you’re not FB friends with can do this to you then you need to lock things down.

In settings, select privacy and then choose “only friends” for both future and past posts.

You can also control how friends tag you in posts or pics. I’ve had this setting activated for years, and it allows me to approve or reject any tags. Of course, it doesn’t stop those pics appearing on their FB pages.

You might also want to limit how your FB page can be found. I’ve kept email address on, but turned off phone number and also removed me from search engines.

5. Remove location services

Your phone can track where you are at any moment, and FB will keep a record of this. You can stop this in your phone location settings, and I’d recommend you do this for more apps, not just Facebook.

6. Reduce personal information

Finally edit your profile so there’s the bare minimum of data on there about you. Do you need to link to family members, or share where you studied or live? Delete or hide anything you don’t think people need to know.

One thought on “Facebook hacking checklist: how to protect your data

  1. I think the FB hacking scandal really just got to a lot of people. I mean, it’s not like people didn’t know that FB was selling their personal data for ads before.


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