On Twitter, a friend posted: “Facebook is the worst mistake humanity has ever made.”
I had to stop to think about that.
The worst mistake? That seems harsh.
I’d rank it in my Top 20.
I must confess: I loathe Facebook.
The social media platform that Mark Zuckerberg created to check out Harvard girls played a monstrous role in our 2016 presidential election. It was overrun by Russian trolls who spread disinformation about Hillary Clinton. The platform has done little to improve in the ensuing years, and in some ways has gotten worse. Last year, it added the far-right freakfest Breitbart News as one of its “trusted news sources.” Zuckerberg and his minions also have stated they will not be fact-checking political ads – but they will be cashing the checks. This means that the coming election promises to be as much of a debacle.
And then there’s the price of Facebook: If a product is free, you are the product.
Facebooks profits by its data mining, capturing all our information and packaging it for advertisers. One prominent Boston executive told me last fall how Facebook is a gold mine for its advertising department. The organization can specify that its ads target, say, single Hispanic mothers between the ages of 19-25 living in one particular zip code, and the platform delivers.
But can you escape Facebook? I often thought of closing my account, but too many family and friends rely on it to communicate.
So I opted for a middle ground. I locked my account to private and opted only to check in on family. I deleted the app from my phone two phones ago.
I felt good about myself.
Then I heard about a little-known feature – “Off-Facebook Activity.”
Facebook monitors what you do when you are not on the site.
How can that even be possible?
I logged into my account, checked my security settings and accessed Off-Facebook Activity.
I found that 86 online shops and apps, ranging from Amazon to eBay to my local bus app, were sharing my personal information with Facebook. I had not linked one of these things to my Facebook account. The bus app is only on my latest phone, and I surmise it must be sharing location information with Facebook. As if I want these creeps to know where I am at all times.
Dang was I ticked off. And I cut Facebook right off at the knees.
Here’s how you can do it too:
Go to your Facebook settings.
Jump down to Your Facebook information.
Click on Off-Facebook Activity. Here you can see who is sharing your information with Facebook when you are not on Facebook. You might be shocked. I was.
Under Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity, click on More Options.
Select Manage Future Activity, and TURN IT OFF.
You will get a hilarious warning from Facebook about how it might not be able to personalize your Facebook experience if you stop sharing every nanosecond of your life. Boo hoo. TURN IT OFF.
Clear your history.
It’s a small step toward reclaiming your privacy, but you’ll feel better. The less Facebook knows, the safer we all are.