GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Amid an uproar over Facebook’s use of people's personal data, experts want you to look at your settings to make sure you're not over-sharing.
Facebook was reportedly found to have given away the personal information of 50 million people without their consent. According to a New York Times investigation, the information was gathered by third-party vendor Cambridge Analytica and then sold to advertisers to target users with advertising or sway political beliefs.
The Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into the controversial advertising tactic that experts say could end in a fine for the social media site.
The convenience of one password is all it takes for many people to sign up for certain services using just their Facebook. For example, Airbnb, Spotify and Uber all have this sign-up/sign-in option. The problem is these are third-party sites, taking in all your personal information and activity on Facebook— sometimes selling it.
"Essentially, those businesses are buying that data from Facebook, because that's Facebook's industry,” NWTC IT Instructor Michael Teske told Action 2 News. “They are selling that time to these companies, so what they do is they'll buy that data so they can better target their Facebook users. I mean, you're talking 1.5 billion users."
That's the thing about data: once it's out there, it's hard to control it.
Here are the specific steps you should take with your own Facebook account to protect your own data.
Go to ‘Settings’ — not 'Privacy' but 'Settings' -- and click on ‘Apps’. Here you’re able to completely disable the platform. Or, if you still want to use your apps (but just don’t want to share information), you click ‘Apps others use’ and un-check all of the boxes.
“By default it's going to share a lot of information that's pretty scary. Basically everything that's on your Facebook page is shared to those apps. And basically these are apps that are being used by other friends that are in your friend space and those apps will actually harvest the data from that app—of your information—whether you know it or not,” said Teske.
Teske says you won't miss out by un-checking the boxes.
“Why does an app need access to my contacts, access to my location services? I mean, they really don't,” he said.