How To Put Facebook in a Box

If you’re like me and you hate everything Facebook has become and everything they do as a company but you keep using it because nice people you really want to stay in touch with are on it, then here are a few simple tips to minimise your Facebook exposure:

1. Disable Facebook Platform. Instructions are helpfully provided here: https://www.facebook.com/help/211829542181913/ After doing this, you will no longer be able to use Facebook to log in to other sites. That helps to remove Facebook’s power. If you already use Facebook to log in to other sites then this can be bit of a pain but it’s worth it to extricate yourself from Facebook’s platform.

2. Isolate Facebook. Using the Brave browser that blocks ads and tracking is one way. (Brave is my primary browser these days.) If you use Firefox, install Mozilla’s Facebook container extension: https://addons.mozilla.org/…/fire…/addon/facebook-container/ that will automatically isolate your Facebook usage from your usage of other websites. In Chrome or Opera, use a good third party tracking blocker such as Privacy Badger: https://www.eff.org/privacybadger. (On my Firefox installations, I have Facebook container, Privacy Badger and HTTPS Everywhere installed). This limits what Facebook can know about your comings and goings on the rest of the web.

3. Delete any Facebook apps from all of your mobile devices. Sorry – this is an important one. Installing any Facebook app (including Facebook Messenger) gives Facebook unlimited access to information about you all the time. Delete the apps. Instead, use Facebook via the web browse and ensure you also have a tracking blocker installed on your mobile web browser (such as Disconnect.me). If you are sporting an Android phone, you can save the Facebook web app to your home screen and take advantage of notification so you can still be notified e.g. when someone comments on your post. More info can be found here: https://download.cnet.com/…/facebook-rolls-out-progressive…/ On IOS you can also save-to-homescreen from within the browser but you don’t get quite as much functionality. It still works fine.

(And yes, Samsung Internet mobile browser – available on all Android phones – does allow save-to-homescreen and installation of the Disconnect tracking blocker so I encourage you to use that. Plug over.)

4. Stop using FB messenger. And start thinking about migrating off of WhatsApp as well. It’s only a matter of time. Signal, Telegram and Wire are good alternatives.

And if you’re feeling very adventurous, please come join me on Mastodon (which is an open source, distributed alternative to Twitter and Facebook) and follow me at @torgo@mastodon.social. More info here: https://joinmastodon.org/

In general, all of the above isolates your Facebook activity and lets you use the service for what it was designed for in the first place – keeping in touch with other people you care about. It also mitigates against the ways Facebook surveils you while you use it. If you want any help setting up anything I’ve described above, please let me know (not via FB Messenger please) and I’d be glad to help out. If you have additional suggestions, please feel free to post them in the replies. If you feel tempted to reply something like “who cares, privacy is dead” please just don’t.


Also published on Medium.

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