Facebook has agreed to pay a record $5 billion settlement to resolve an investigation into privacy violations, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Wednesday. The company will also create an "independent privacy committee" to ensure "greater accountability at the board of directors level," an FTC press release says. But the settlement won't affect Facebook's corporate governance structure, which lets Zuckerberg hold sway over the company's actions. Facebook has promised to clean up its act when it comes to privacy matters. But the social media giant's missteps have nonetheless cost it the trust of some users.
Facebook knows a lot about you. But it's only recently that its two billion-plus users have become interested in knowing just exactly how much data Facebook has collected on them. It's difficult to uncover every piece of piece of your personal data that's trickled out to the internet and into the hands of advertisers. However, the good news is that Facebook gives users the option to see most of the information that's been collected so far. In the wake of Facebook's privacy scandal, many of the site's two billion-plus users are now taking steps to protect or delete their personal data from being collected on the site.
You've likely heard by now about Cambridge Analytica, the shadowy, Trump-affiliated data analysis firm that reportedly siphoned off information belonging to 50 million Facebook users, according to The Guardian and Observer, along with The New York Times. In the wake of the scandal over Facebook's privacy practices, users have become newly interested in the data that Facebook collects and retains about them. But while the social network makes it fairly simple to download everything it knows about you, it doesn't provide a roadmap for how to parse that data or figure out what it means. Facebook announced Wednesday, however, that in the coming weeks, it will expand the data it allows you to download to include likes, reactions, search history, and location history. The social network also plans to add an option for users to transfer the data to another service if they want.
Nobody likes being spied on. When you're innocently browsing the web, it's deeply unpleasant to think that faceless technology corporations are monitoring and recording your every move. While such data collection is legal, that doesn't mean it's all right. There are plenty of things you might prefer to keep to yourself, such as your income, your sexuality, your political views or your membership of the Yoko Ono fanclub. For an indication of what can be inferred from your online habits, take a look at the Apply Magic Sauce tool produced by Cambridge Psychometrics Centre, which produces a profile of your personality based on Facebook and Twitter data.
If you've finally given up on the world's most popular social media network and want to get rid of Facebook, it's not too complicated to remove yourself from the service. But before you delete all of those pictures, posts, and Likes, you should download your personal information from Facebook first. Your Facebook archives contain just about all of the pertinent information related to your account, including your photos, active sessions, chat history, IP addresses, facial recognition data, and which ads you clicked, just to name a few. That's a ton of personal information that you should probably maintain access to. To download your archive, go to "Settings" and click "Download a copy of your Facebook data" at the bottom of General Account Settings, and then click "Start My Archive."