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I Didn't Delete Facebook But Here Is How I'm Protecting Myself From It

Happy Easter Weekend and welcome to the inaugural issue of my personal newsletter that I am calling "
Living My Legend
I Didn't Delete Facebook But Here Is How I'm Protecting Myself From It
By Nico Atienza • Issue #2 • View online
Happy Easter Weekend and welcome to the inaugural issue of my personal newsletter that I am calling “Living My Legend”

Today, I want to talk about the social network that houses almost a third of the world’s population. That’s right, I’m talking about the one and only Facebook.
The social media giant got themselves in really hot water recently after a Hollywood-style scandal broke out when a third party company named Cambridge Analytica harvested the information of over 50 million profiles with the intent of influencing the 2016 US Presidential Election.
After the news broke out, I went back and forth trying to decide whether or not I should delete my Facebook account altogether.
I felt betrayed and disgusted at how Facebook would allow such nefarious activities to be easily conducted on their platform. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I was getting myself into when I voluntarily submitted information about myself and my whereabouts but I expected Facebook to at least safeguard it.
Facebook has also been in the local Sri Lankan news recently after the government decided to ban the social network to prevent the spread of hate speech following some racial unrest, while the UN unabashedly pointed the finger at Facebook for fueling the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.
Oy vey..
There was so much ugliness with Facebook that I was starting to resent logging in to check on my friends. It wasn’t just me, there were a lot of people up in arms about how betrayed they felt after the Cambridge Analytica incident. Some called for regulation while others flat out deleted their accounts. The #deleteFacebook movement was born.
I was ready to get behind the movement until someone I haven’t spoken to in at least 10 years sent me a message on Facebook. An old friend from college was in town and wanted to meet for a beer. That, for me, was the beautiful side of Facebook.
I’ve been on Facebook for over a decade now and in that time, the number of social assets I’ve accumulated in my profile has become somewhat irreplaceable. Old friends from college, former co-workers, and even travelers I met are all connections I’ve made and maintained on Facebook and nowhere else.
With the rampant globalization today, people may move cities, countries and even change their phone numbers, but Facebook has given them an identity and a place on the internet that they will never need to change in their lifetime if the social network has their way.
That fact made me take my finger away from clicking the “Delete Account” button and it was also then that I decided to keep my account. However, things were going to be different now because I was going to take back control of how Facebook collects and disseminates my data since I cannot trust them to keep it safe.

Here’s how I did it:
1. Changed all permissions and purged any applications I was no longer using by referring to this article.
2. Downloaded Firefox (web browser) after they released an update that limits Facebook’s ability to track your online data and activity. I will only use this browser for Facebook.
3. Disabled Facebook from being accessible on my main web browser, Google Chrome, by installing this extension. With this enabled, if I mistakenly get directed to Facebook, this will show up:
4. The awesome folks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation created a browser extension called “Privacy Badger” that will warn you if the website you are on is tracking you in any way. It was a no-brainer to install and make my browsing experience that much safer overall.
5. Deleted the Facebook app on my phone after finding out that they’ve been collecting call and text data on Android. I’m primarily an iOS user but this revelation was enough to have the app banished from my iPhone.

There you have it! 5 steps I took to take back control of my data and privacy from Facebook. It may not be a surefire way to keep them out but it is steps in the right direction at least.

My best,
Nico
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Nico Atienza

A third culture kid discussing expat life in Sri Lanka, technology, travel, and food.

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