News of Facebook’s lax security with users’ personal data underscores the need for Black activists to be proactive in protecting their privacy on social media.
Facebook is under a microscope for its role in allowing Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that worked to help elect Donald Trump, to collect and use the personal data of 50 million users. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook violated terms of its 2011 consent decree with the agency in allowing Cambridge Analytica to access the data without users’ knowledge, Bloomberg News reported.
This news comes against the backdrop of civil rights groups demanding the termination of government surveillance of activists, including those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition, White supremacist groups have a long history of targeting Black people in hate crimes, which is one theory behind the Austin bombings.
While government officials consider additional privacy regulations, the responsibility of protecting personal information is squarely on Facebook users, said the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an online security watchdog group. This was not a data breach but “exactly how Facebook’s infrastructure was designed to work,” the organization emphasized.
If leaving Facebook altogether isn’t an option, here are steps to take control of privacy settings that can block third parties from collecting personal data:
Log into Facebook and visit the App Settings page (or go there manually via the Settings Menu > Apps ).
From there, click the “Edit” button under “Apps, Websites and Plugins.” Click “Disable Platform.”
For some users, disabling the platform entirely is not a desirable option. Here’s a way to limit personal information that’s accessible by third party apps:
From the same page, click “Edit” under “Apps Others Use.” Then uncheck the types of information that you don’t want other apps to see.