Did you know the world’s biggest social network can collect information about you even if you haven’t signed up? Daniel Gillmor, a senior staff technologist for the ACLU, wrote a blog post about how Facebook is collecting his personal data even though he’s never made an account.
#DeleteFacebook … or not.
Even if you’ve never had an account or decide to delete yours, Facebook can use information from your friends with accounts to learn about you and link you with people you know. They can also collect some of your browsing history if you visit pages with a “Like” or “Share” button.
Gillmor used Facebook’s method of “finding friends” as an example. (Read the full post here.)
“I received an email from Facebook that lists the people who have all invited me to join Facebook: my aunt, an old co-worker, a friend from elementary school, etc.,” he wrote. “This email includes names and email addresses — including my own name — and at least one web bug designed to identify me to Facebook’s web servers when I open the email. Facebook records this group of people as my contacts, even though I’ve never agreed to this kind of data collection.”
Combined with “like” and “share” plug-ins that reveal some of your browsing history, Facebook can collect a lot of information about you even if you haven’t joined the platform.
Is there any way to get off the grid?
It’s almost impossible to use the internet without leaving any digital footprint, but you can use certain browsers and plug-ins to help protect online privacy.
- Use the Tor Browser to minimize surveillance of what sites you visit.
- Add plug-ins to Firefox and Chrome to block third-party requests for information.
- If you manage a website, think about what information you’re requiring people to share.