DENVER — The fallout from the Cambridge Analytica controversy has many users choosing to delete their Facebook accounts, but it’s not as easy as you may think.
Permanently removing the social network from your life may not mean Facebook’s massive digital reach is done with you.
"Facebook could go away today, but your data is still out there for all of these marketing firms to use," said cybersecurity expert Steve Fox. "It's a genie that's out of the bottle, a horse that's left the barn."
While deleting Facebook seems like an obvious option, there are other things you can do to protect your information.
Here's everything you need to know about how to better control what's shared on Facebook:
How to (mostly) stop Facebook from sharing your data
Deleting or deactivating Facebook isn't an option for everyone -- you may not want to give up staying in touch with family and friends or participating in support groups.
But you may be surprised how many apps like Airbnb or Venmo you've logged into through the social network over the years. Services make it easy to log in with Facebook rather than requiring a separate username and password.
This raises concern because users may not realize how much those third-party apps gain access to your personal data.
To do some spring cleaning, you'll want to visit Facebook's App page under the Settings menu to see how many apps you have connected to your account. You can select which services you want to remove at the top of the page or disable all of them via Apps, Website and Plugins > Edit.
However, you won't be able to log into apps like Instagram or Spotify using your Facebook account anymore. Instead, you'll need to sign up for the service directly with a unique log in.
Keep in mind apps you've already installed could still have your shared information even after disabling the feature. You'll have to contact the app individually and ask for your data to be removed. Facebook doesn't give instructions on how to best reach out the app.
Another thing you may not know: People on Facebook who can see your information can bring it with them when they use apps such as games. By selecting Settings > Apps > Apps Others Use, uncheck the boxes you don't want those apps to access, such as your birthday, hometown, and political views.
If you still want to leave Facebook, there are two options to choose from: Deactivation (temporary) and Deletion (permanent).
To deactivate your account temporarily, follow these steps:
- Click account settings at the top right of any Facebook page.
- Select Settings.
- Click General in the left column.
- Choose Manage your account and then scroll down to click Deactivate your account.
But if you decide to take the leap and untangle yourself completely from Zuckerberg’s web, follow this link and click on the option to “permanently delete my account.” But before you delete your account, there’s an option to download a copy of your profile.