This past year was a challenging one for officials with Facebook, as the website has come under fire for a number of privacy-related concerns. While the company adamantly states that they are working hard to protect our personal information, your online safety rests in your own hands.

On March 17, 2018, both The New York Times and The Guardian broke a story that would change the way many view Facebook and the world of social media as a whole. In it, it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting and strategic communication firm behind Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, was obtaining the personal data of Facebook users through a personality quiz app.

Why would a company like Cambridge Analytica want this information? They weren’t just collecting your name and birthdate, the information they collected using the quiz went a step further. The questions asked would provide information focused on the 5 main personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism), and this information was then used to create a psychographic profile.

A team of researchers out of Cambridge University explained the way that this works in a paper titled ‘Private Traits and Attributes Are Predictable From Digital Records of Human Behavior’. They explained that it “can be used to automatically and accurately predict a range of highly sensitive personal attributes including: sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views, personality traits, intelligence, happiness, use of addictive substances, parental separation, age, and gender.”

It was an eye-opener for users around the globe, suddenly aware of the amount of information contained within our social media profiles, and how easily that information can be obtained through a single app. This is especially true considering the fact that so many of us will ‘opt-in’ without taking the time to read through or consider what we are consenting to. In light of these concerns, it is more important than ever to take steps to keep yourself safe online.

The following steps will walk you through identifying which apps are currently tracking you on Facebook, and revoking their access:

Go to Facebook.com and click on the arrow symbol in the top righthand corner of your screen.

Select ‘settings’ from the menu.

Look to the menu on the left and select ‘Apps’.

When the App Settings page opens up, you will find yourself shocked to see all of the apps that currently have access to your public information. You likely will have to click ‘Show All’ to see everything.

Now that you have identified the apps, you can start to work through what information each has access to. When you hover over an app you will see two options available, a small pencil and an x. Click on the pencil and it will open up the edit window. Here you will find all of the information that a specific app has access to, you may be shocked!

From here, you can remove access to various pieces of information, however, you may find that some apps deem this information as ‘required’. At this point, you are going to have to make the difficult decision: What is more important, using that specific app or keeping your information safe? If you select the later, delete the app entirely.

Further down in the ‘Apps’ section of your settings you will find additional settings that should also be addressed. This includes using apps to log into games and other websites, as well as what information is available to your friends. Each of these sections has options available to you. Do your due diligence, read through all of your options and make the decisions that best fit your lifestyle and the level of online privacy you seek.

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