*Flee from the Trump-era Facebook while you still have a chance.
How to get out of this mess
According to the FTC settlement from a few years ago, after Facebook was sued by the US government for its privacy practices, Facebook is “required to prevent anyone from accessing a user’s material more than 30 days after the user has deleted his or her account;”
There are different interpretations of this. Some say you need to delete each post separately, others say delete your account, and some say they’ll still keep your data anyway – that all you can do is stop giving them more data. Then, there are the data brokers Facebook works with, that now have our data.
So deleting your Facebook account (not deactivating) is necessary to stop this, and then there are a few other steps to try to undo the damage:
Use Facebook’s download my archive tool
Grab your photos. I used this Android app since the Facebook tool doesn’t give you all your pictures or in full resolution. ( I also downloaded my friends list page - just by scrolling to the bottom to load everyone, and hitting File -> Save. Honestly, so far I haven’t needed the file yet. Turns out, I don’t need a computer to tell me who my friends are. )
If you want to be extra careful delete your Facebook posts individually with this script. This is necessary under some interpretations of what Facebook is entitled to keep.
Deleting your account
Delete your Facebook account Don’t let Facebook trick you into “deactivating” it instead.
Facebook will still try to track you with a “shadow profile”, but this can be blocked.
To stop Facebook (and others) from tracking what I read on the web, I use Firefox with Tracking Protection enabled. (Here’s how. (they do this even if you don’t have a Facebook account)
If you’re not using Firefox, the EFF have a browser plugin called Privacy Badger. (And while you’re at it, the EFF made this great plugin that automatically chooses the most secure web connection, making it more difficult for internet companies and others to snoop your web activity.)
Then there’s the data that’s been leaked to data brokers. You can request that they remove it.
What replaces Facebook?
2017 update: At first, I thought I’d try Facebook alternatives. I felt a sense of needing to replace Facebook with something similar, like Diaspora but email and phone have actually been much better! After a month off Facebook, I didn’t feel the need for a direct replacement. The phone call was enough- go figure. Everyone already has one, and we forget how super easy and convenient they are to use. I see fewer pictures, but I actually talk to people. More recently, we all got on a big chat room. I currently recommend Signal for this. You can encrypted call, chat and share pictures, and very little is stored on their servers. It’s actually better than Facebook since it’s more immediate and personal.
If you have any other ideas or advice, please get in touch. This is what I see as a responsible step to prevent myself, my family and my friends from having their freedom taken from them, and their personal relationships made to suffer.
Remember, this isn’t just about the technical stuff. By staying on Facebook, you’re granting them permission to collect and use information about you, regardless of you even using the Internet. And by staying on, the data they collect on you gets used to create models about your closest friends and family, even the ones who opted out.
The Internet is free and open, but that doesn’t mean we to accept being spied on
Lastly, the world is full of people who say “it’ll never happen”, and when it does, they switch to “there’s nothing we can do.” There is. The Internet was decentralised for 50 years, and is full of options, by design, that allow us to maintain privacy. We have a say in the world we want to live in – if we take action ourselves. Plus, we can help everyone understand, and help them make their own choices more informed.
This post has been read by 1,000,000 people now. It’s a positive sign that we can inform and educate ourselves!
Please share this with people who are important to you. But to be honest, even though this post is really popular, it’s clear a lot of people are assuming what’s in it. Sharing a link isn’t as good as talking to someone.
If you got this far and want to share it with someone close, I suggest you do what I did – pick up the phone.
A question for you