If you don't want to delete your Facebook account, here's how to cut back

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2018
Facebook tests the limits of people's tolerance for use of private information, as well as over regular changing of privacy settings for their users with little or no notice. Obviously, you can delete your Facebook account, but what if you're not ready to purge everything?


Facebook is having to talk about cracking down on abuse of user data. They don't really want to have to do this.


Some people have the luxury of deleting an account. They can reach the people they were engaging with through other means. Elon Musk is an extreme example of this: SpaceX had a Facebook page with 2.6 million likes, and he wasn't aware they even had a Facebook page. Once it was brought to his attention, it was deleted within about 20 minutes.

when @elonmusk casually announces on Twitter that:

A) he didn't realize @SpaceX had a @facebook page
B) he's going to delete it pic.twitter.com/7gDBY3opwo

-- J.D. Durkin (@jiveDurkey)


Not everyone has this luxury. Musk doesn't mind if he turns off Facebook in the face of 2.6 million likes, where other people might.

There are plenty of reasons for keeping an account around. You might manage pages for businesses and need to be able to continue to do that, even if you don't wish to have your personal information harvested. You might have contacts that you only reach through Facebook, and don't want to lose them.

Maybe you have a chronic illness and Facebook is the place other sufferers from around the world gather and make a community. And, if we're being honest with ourselves, family members aren't going to start uploading pictures of their kids at Mastodon. Lots of people would love to leave Facebook, but find it very difficult to do so.

At the same time, you don't need Facebook having huge amounts of information with which to profile you. What are some of the ways you can limit this?

There are a few things to consider besides just nuking your Facebook presence from orbit.

Backup

Download your Facebook archive. We're going to be deleting a bunch of stuff, so it's good to have backups, even if you don't think you'll miss it. One of the benefits of doing this is that you get the list of all your contacts and their contact information.

Backing up Facebook is relatively easy now, where it's been more difficult in years past. First, open up Facebook in a browser. Go to Facebook.com/settings and click "Download a copy of your Facebook data" at the bottom.

Apps

Delete all the app connections you can. Single sign on for websites and apps has been a big thing push among UX design for the past few years. It's convenient, but at the same time it gives more control to Facebook.

But, many of these apps don't let you switch to another method of authentication. And, even if they do, you have to decide for yourself if you wish to lose that history and create a new account, or keep them around. This is going to be a difficult process.

For example, Trov is an insurance company that uses Facebook single sign on. Look through Settings > Apps and consider deleting access to the apps you haven't used in ages.

Posts and Likes

The Chrome app we've been using is Social Book Post Manager. It is able to be quite granular as well as broad in terms of managing privacy, likes, and posts -- install the Social Book Post Manager, navigate in Chrome to Facebook, navigate to your Activity Log, and then click in the toolbar on Social Book Post Manager. A simple example might be to delete the posts from January 2018.




Start by selecting the year, and then the month January. We set it to use 16x speed, rather than the 4x default. We don't feel the need to pre-scan the page, because we don't need to see it delete the items. Then, click "Delete". It will scan the page, shown by a yellow "Scanning" indicator at the top of the page. When it's done scanning, it will change to read, "Confirm to delete". Click on "Confirm to delete" and the third option down is "confirm."







Click on that, and it will change the label to processing, as it goes through and deletes all the posts that were selected when it was scanning initially. Repeat using the same steps to unlike posts that were liked. Unfortunately, this tool doesn't appear clean up reactions. If you heart, laugh, or frown in anger at a post instead of thumbs-up-liking it, you may have to remove those manually. It also doesn't clean up replies.

If the bulk of your activity is composed of posts, this works great, but you may have to manually remove replies. The last consideration is that it takes a long time to process, so allow it to run in the background. For us, this was a several day process, because on the account we tested it on, there are 11 years of history to clean up.



Facebook makes this difficult so that no one will do it. They benefit from users having huge histories of data, and benefit from users feeling locked into Facebook. Here, the Chrome app is taking much of the pain out of manually selecting and deleting each post individually, but it's still time consuming.




By deleting posts, removing likes, and removing apps from access, you're minimizing the profile that can be built on your data in the future, especially if you minimize your behavior, so as not to add to that concordance of data. Every site you visit on the Internet tracks you. Facebook, among others, gets that data and uses it to their own advantage.

After all this is said and done, start using private browsing or incognito mode where you can -- and we'll be talking about that in the future.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,752member
    I think it will be tough for Facebook to recover from this. I know a lot of people that have deleted the app or are using it less. And now Facebook had to issue a press release on call and SMS history. They say they don’t sell the data or know the contents but it’s still creepy that they think the need to have it. And even though it’s opt in I’m sure there are a lot of people who opt in to things they don’t fully understand, especially if the wording makes it seem beneficial and innocuous.
    https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/03/fact-check-your-call-and-sms-history/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

    I’d love to know who Reuters polled here though. Apple is less trusted to obey privacy than Google, Microsoft or Amazon?!?

    Techmeme (@Techmeme)
    Reuters/Ipsos poll: only 41% of Americans trust Facebook to obey privacy laws while 66% trust Amazon, 62% trust Google, 60% trust Microsoft, and 53% trust Apple (Reuters)

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-facebook-poll/americans-less-likely-to-trust-facebook-than-rivals-on-personal-data-reuters-ipsos-poll-idUSKBN1H10K3
  • Reply 2 of 28
    irelandireland Posts: 17,538member
    How do we know the security of this extension?
    redgeminipasunman42
  • Reply 3 of 28
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,063member
    Instead of dealing with fleas, best to not lay down with dogs in the first place.
    tallest skilTomEbaconstangpg4g0001buzdotsrotateleftbytemobiuswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 28
    Here's the easiest way. Just don't go there.
    tallest skilTomEbuzdotsmacseekerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 28
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,099member
    I like to say I use FB.  It doesn’t use me.  I have no personal information posted in my profile.  Even my birth date is wrong.   Phone number?  555-1212.  

    First, I basically have 90% of my friends hidden so I don’t see their posts.   I don’t follow them.  I’m not there to see what they are doing.  I don’t care.  I’m there if they need to contact me or vice-versa.   Send me a message.  Don’t post to your wall.  

    Second, I am a member of or follow a very select few groups.   I see news regarding what those groups are doing (like, say, an Apple group devoted to powerPcs, or the modelers association of a very ancient sci-fi television show).   

    Third, I go back and delete my comments if I even post any about once every 2-3 weeks.   

    Fourth, I never like anything.  

    Fifth, I don’t follow companies, take surveys, play games, etc.   

    Sixth, I receive zero notifications.   I check it on my terms.  

    I should just delete it completely, but it does have its uses.   

    Now, if I could just stay off of a few other sites...
    redgeminiparadarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 28
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,893member
    rogifan_new said:
    Reuters/Ipsos poll: only 41% of Americans trust Facebook to obey privacy laws while 66% trust Amazon, 62% trust Google, 60% trust Microsoft, and 53% trust Apple (Reuters)
    Wow, that's a lot of ignorant people!
    And, especially that more people trust Facebook than the others? Wow, just wow.

    eriamjh said:
    I like to say I use FB.  It doesn’t use me.  I have no personal information posted in my profile.  Even my birth date is wrong.   Phone number?  555-1212.  
    ...
    Now, if I could just stay off of a few other sites...
    Yea, you're screwed anyway. Many of the big data agencies have had security-breaches, and they all sell aggregate data between each other anyway. So, if Facebook doesn't have it, they just buy it from the credit agency or other on-line services and viola, they have the data you didn't give them to add to what you did give them (or view, etc.).

    Then on a bigger scale, anyone with a certain amount of power can aggregate most everything you do or have done, together, to figure out the things you think you've hidden or avoided. Unless you use a clean computer (or VPS), VPN, and special software, your privacy is ultimately compromised.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 28
    I've deleted the apps from my iOS devices (and removed the OS integration on my iPad 2, stuck on iOS 9, where that is still a thing) about two weeks ago, before this whole debacle. Not only I was able to get back a huge amount of storage (particularly important on my iPhone SE 16GB), but also I've come to realize that my work routine flows better. I can't say anything about battery life because I've never enabled Facebook to keep updated on the background.

    Now, once a day, only if I remember to do it, I open Facebook on my Mac, enforcing strict rules about cookies and Javascript, to keep up do date of the 10 % of my feed that actually is of some interest to me (and I have less than 200 friends in it, unlike most people).

    I'd rather delete the whole thing, but my wife prevented me for doing so, and I didn't thought it worth the hassle...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 28
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Facebook stores logs of phone calls and text message for years.
    If you granted permission to read contacts during Facebook's installation on Android a few versions ago—specifically before Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)—that permission also granted Facebook access to call and message logs by default. The permission structure was changed in the Android API in version 16. But Android applications could bypass this change if they were written to earlier versions of the API, so Facebook API could continue to gain access to call and SMS data by specifying an earlier Android SDK version. Google deprecated version 4.0 of the Android API in October 2017—the point at which the latest call metadata in Facebook users' data was found. Apple iOS has never allowed silent access to call data.
    So Facebook lied to users about what data it’s accessing. Gee. How about that.
    buzdotsRayz2016macseekermike54tzm41watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 28
    I don’t understand. This is common knowledge that the democrats where mining data back in the 2012 elections in the way Republicans were not, but now that the Republicans play catch up, all hell breaks loose? Plus Google probably has tonnes more data on all of us then the Democrats or Republicans could ever get... it’s why I switched to duck duck go.
    macseekermike54maltzwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 28
    mike54mike54 Posts: 294member
    Leaving Facebook should start with those who can leave with minimal impact to themselves, and increase from there. Then gradually alternatives will emerge, then friends, family, organisations, businesses etc will move away too. Everyone doesn't need to leave Facebook all at once to make a huge impact. 
    Also Telegram and Signal are better alternatives to WhatsApp.
  • Reply 11 of 28
    mike54 said:
    Leaving Facebook should start with those who can leave with minimal impact to themselves, and increase from there. Then gradually alternatives will emerge, then friends, family, organisations, businesses etc will move away too. Everyone doesn't need to leave Facebook all at once to make a huge impact.
    I completely agree-- even if it starts slow, it'll still make an impact...
  • Reply 12 of 28
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 986member
    mike54 said:
    Leaving Facebook should start with those who can leave with minimal impact to themselves, and increase from there. Then gradually alternatives will emerge, then friends, family, organisations, businesses etc will move away too. Everyone doesn't need to leave Facebook all at once to make a huge impact. 
    Also Telegram and Signal are better alternatives to WhatsApp.
    What think what is needed is not another hosted single service but something distributed like email. Something we could host our own content and share as we see fit, to trash as we see fit. Like email be able to move content between two servers as we choose. Sure let companies sell access to content they host. 

    Something ubiquious like email, even as an expansion to email server.

    I mean any other single service is just going to be a haven for the same scheme in the end. 
  • Reply 13 of 28
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,921member
    mattinoz said:
    mike54 said:
    Leaving Facebook should start with those who can leave with minimal impact to themselves, and increase from there. Then gradually alternatives will emerge, then friends, family, organisations, businesses etc will move away too. Everyone doesn't need to leave Facebook all at once to make a huge impact. 
    Also Telegram and Signal are better alternatives to WhatsApp.
    What think what is needed is not another hosted single service but something distributed like email. Something we could host our own content and share as we see fit, to trash as we see fit. Like email be able to move content between two servers as we choose. Sure let companies sell access to content they host. 

    Something ubiquious like email, even as an expansion to email server.

    I mean any other single service is just going to be a haven for the same scheme in the end. 
    The problem with such systems as email: spam.

    Has anyone solved that yet?
  • Reply 14 of 28
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,921member
    Facebook tests my limits of tolerance with their website's bugs too.

    Wait. Not "tests". What's the phrase I'm looking for...?

    "Vastly exceeds".

    That's it.

    Between Apple's iOS Safari text editing bugs, and Facebook's own constant buggy functionality, it's the most hostile experience for attempting meaningful communication I've yet experienced. But then, Facebook is not meant for meaningful communication. It's meant for exactly the thing we are currently complaining about: data collection. Even without the scams, the business model is antisocial.

    But as I said in the "kill your account" article, I can't just casually delete my account, as much as I would like to. Not without losing contact with the wider scope of people I keep up with there (because, no, everyone doesn't want to send email to each other; it's hard enough to get my close friends to email me). If only there was a replacement for Facebook that was more like a proper forum, and who's business model wasn't data collection... but then, you won't see people spending money to subscribe to a social platform that isn't going to be abusing them, especially in an economy of wage slaves... because "free" beats "subscription" any day, even when you tell people that it's not actually free.
  • Reply 15 of 28
    spacekidspacekid Posts: 162member
    Reuters/Ipsos poll: only 41% of Americans trust Facebook to obey privacy laws while 66% trust Amazon, 62% trust Google, 60% trust Microsoft, and 53% trust Apple (Reuters)
    At least until some security breach regarding the others is revealed.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 28
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,207member


    Techmeme (@Techmeme)
    Reuters/Ipsos poll: only 41% of Americans trust Facebook to obey privacy laws while 66% trust Amazon, 62% trust Google, 60% trust Microsoft, and 53% trust Apple (Reuters)

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-facebook-poll/americans-less-likely-to-trust-facebook-than-rivals-on-personal-data-reuters-ipsos-poll-idUSKBN1H10K3
    Thats totally arse over tit. Although I am guessing the 47% of people who don't trust Apple are Android users. A large proportion of the 62% who trust Google must be. So it is just OS tribalism. Apple makes it so hard to get information about its customers entire categories of apps that work on Android just don't work, or work in a much reduced fashion on iOS. You can't even get the MAC address of your own device, or the devices on the network. 

    This discrepancy, however,  makes me feel that some of this concern about privacy is still a concern amongst journalists and others who don't like FB and Google stomping on their turf. Theres only so much about the Cambridge Analytica story I believe. Obviously there is a data breach there. How it influenced anybody is yet to be seen.
    edited March 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,817member
    Color me surprised too but a SurveyMonkey poll conducted for Axios came up with much the same results
    https://www.axios.com/exclusive-poll-facebook-favorability-plunges-1522057235-b1fa31db-e646-4413-a273-95d3387da4f2.html

    While almost all suffered some impacts to the public's perception of their favorability in the past several months the data is still pretty much in line with Reuters own:

    Amazon is at 59%
    Apple is 40%
    Facebook has a miserable 5%
    Google comes in at 64%
    Microsft comes in with 59%
    Twitter is worst at -4% (!)

    But the public is fickle and easily influenced by recent events.






    edited March 2018
  • Reply 18 of 28
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,901member
    I think it will be tough for Facebook to recover from this. I know a lot of people that have deleted the app or are using it less. And now Facebook had to issue a press release on call and SMS history. They say they don’t sell the data or know the contents but it’s still creepy that they think the need to have it. And even though it’s opt in I’m sure there are a lot of people who opt in to things they don’t fully understand, especially if the wording makes it seem beneficial and innocuous.
    https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/03/fact-check-your-call-and-sms-history/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

    I’d love to know who Reuters polled here though. Apple is less trusted to obey privacy than Google, Microsoft or Amazon?!?

    Techmeme (@Techmeme)
    Reuters/Ipsos poll: only 41% of Americans trust Facebook to obey privacy laws while 66% trust Amazon, 62% trust Google, 60% trust Microsoft, and 53% trust Apple (Reuters)

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-facebook-poll/americans-less-likely-to-trust-facebook-than-rivals-on-personal-data-reuters-ipsos-poll-idUSKBN1H10K3
    My guess is the 47% that don't trust Apple don't actually own anything by Apple.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,817member
    MacPro said:
    I think it will be tough for Facebook to recover from this. I know a lot of people that have deleted the app or are using it less. And now Facebook had to issue a press release on call and SMS history. They say they don’t sell the data or know the contents but it’s still creepy that they think the need to have it. And even though it’s opt in I’m sure there are a lot of people who opt in to things they don’t fully understand, especially if the wording makes it seem beneficial and innocuous.
    https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/03/fact-check-your-call-and-sms-history/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

    I’d love to know who Reuters polled here though. Apple is less trusted to obey privacy than Google, Microsoft or Amazon?!?

    Techmeme (@Techmeme)
    Reuters/Ipsos poll: only 41% of Americans trust Facebook to obey privacy laws while 66% trust Amazon, 62% trust Google, 60% trust Microsoft, and 53% trust Apple (Reuters)

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-facebook-poll/americans-less-likely-to-trust-facebook-than-rivals-on-personal-data-reuters-ipsos-poll-idUSKBN1H10K3
    My guess is the 47% that don't trust Apple don't actually own anything by Apple.
    Chicken or egg? ;)
  • Reply 20 of 28
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 647editor
    ireland said:
    How do we know the security of this extension?
    Good point.

    I should have mentioned that, as well as the idea of disabling and removing the extension once used. After all, if you've gotten all the data out, you don't need the extension again.

    Here's what makes me feel comfortable about the extension:

    1. you never provide the extension any login information.
    2. you have to navigate to your Facebook activity log in order for it to be able to function at all.
    3. all it's doing is scripting the page to select and delete / unlike / etc. versus the very manual clicking of Edit>Delete, one by one for each item.
    You're absolutely right to be concerned. This was the simplest and most limited way I could find to address it. 
    cgWerkspotatoleeksoupwatto_cobra
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