Facebook has announced some of its plans to combat the ongoing controversy surrounding how it uses user data. The company has struggled in recent weeks following the news that a company called Cambridge Analytica was able to use the data of over 50 million Facebook accounts to try to influence the 2016 election. The company has said it will soon roll out a streamlined privacy and security settings page that will make it easier for users to change settings on their accounts. They also plan to roll out a tool which will make advertisers confirm that they obtained email addresses with the consent of users before they are able to match that data up with Facebook user data to create targeted ads. CEO Mark Zuckerberg also spoke to Vox in a podcast released Monday about the company’s troubles, and defended the platform’s business model. Despite the defensive maneuvers, though, many users are nervous about how much information the company has on them, and the #DeleteFacebook movement has gained some steam. Whether you want to keep your Facebook account or not, here’s some helpful advice. 1. Users need to think differently about their role in social networks. “I think there’s a paradigm shift that needs to happen for users. I say this over and over, and people say this in the security world all the time — if the service is free, you are the product. It’s something to remember when you behave as you behave online whatever service you’re using.” 2. You can delete Facebook and keep Facebook Messenger as a separate app. The app split off a while back, and doing this allows you to keep using Facebook for one of its primary uses, which is a kind of Rolodex, or a place where you can get in touch with people you know if you don’t have their phone numbers or email addresses. 3. You can keep Facebook and stay protected. Just do a little spring cleaning. Even before Facebook rolls out the new privacy and security page, it is still pretty easy to adjust your settings. Go to you Facebook page, head to the top right corner and click on the arrow. Go into “Settings,” then look at the left of the screen and click on “Privacy.” Here you adjust everything from who gets to see your email address and phone number to whether search engines can pull up your Facebook profile in search results. 4. You can also adjust what kinds of advertisers are targeting you. In the “Settings” page, you can also click on the tab called “Ads.” Here you’ll see what kind of advertisers you’ve interacted with, what kinds of ads can target you and even what your interests are that advertisers might be zeroing in on — whether that’s recent travel, if you live with a roommate, your recent interest in buying a new coffee table or anything else. The good news is, once you know this profile exists, it is easy to adjust it. Scroll over one of “Your Interests” and click the “X” box that appears. Your list of removed interests can be found by clicking “More” on the right-hand side of the page. 5. If you do delete Facebook, there are a few other options. If you use Facebook for messaging, there are other choices. WhatsApp is popular — but as a heads-up, it is also owned by Facebook. There’s also messaging apps like Telegram and Signal, which are both centered around more privacy and security through encryption. Social media sites like Snapchat and Instagram (also Facebook-owned) allow you to share images and videos, if that’s the main reason you use Facebook. Mastodon and Vero are both being billed as sites that could potentially “replace” Facebook in your life. One piece of advice before signing up for any social networking site: Decide whether it adds value to your life — and whether your friends also use it. Otherwise, it might just be one more site that has access to your data. Sometimes, the best replacement might just be email or a text.Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
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