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protect your personal data

Social media companies are being urged to do more to protect users' personal data following the Facebook scandal where data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica acquired personal data of 50 million of its users without their knowledge.

Yet, while Facebook is stealing all the headlines right now, it's not the only social media platform that's free to use, provided you're willing to trade off your personal data. Aside from joining the #deletefacebook clamour, what more can you do to protect your personal data?

Follow these guidelines to protect your personal data when using social media:

  • Check and recheck your privacy settings - limit all data sharing to a minimum
  • Only 'friend' people you know and trust - in the Facebook breach, this didn't make much difference but generally, the smaller your network, the smaller the risk
  • It's boring, sure, but force yourself to read platform and app terms and conditions before signing up - make sure you know what you're giving up in return (trading personal data is usually non-negotiable but, shockingly, many demand you sign away your IP rights too) using social media
  • Only download apps from trusted or legitimate sites - there are no guarantees, but it's a good starting point
  • Insist on Facebook tag reviews - so everyone needs to get your approval before you can be tagged in a photo
  • Exercise your right of access - you can download the data that currently Facebook holds on you by clicking the download button on the General Account Settings tab
  • Be cautious before using any app that lets you sign in with your Facebook ID - do you know what permissions have been granted to this third party?
  • Check your preferences - to prevent everyone being able to look up your email and contact details on social media platforms
  • Use ad blockers to block unwanted advertising
  • Check what location data and personal data permissions you're giving other apps on your smartphone or tablet
  • Vote with your feet - if a platform doesn't guarantee the level of privacy you want, look elsewhere
  • If you're still unhappy with what you see or the terms being imposed, effect change - sign up to campaigns and initiatives like Doteveryone, to promote a fairer internet and champion more responsible technology for everyone
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