Stop social media tracking and unsubscribe from Facebook

Following the scandal surrounding the data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica, more and more people are turning their backs on Facebook. We’ll explain how to avoid the hassle of tracking through the data octopus and pull the Facebook “plug” if necessary.

Outraged users, massive stock market losses and investigations by US, UK and US regulators EU: No doubt, there is a tornado on Facebook that has plunged the online social network into the worst crisis since its inception.

Facebook Scandal: What was it all about?

In March 2018, it was announced that the British data analysis company Cambridge Analytica had obtained personal information from a total of 87 million US Facebook users. According to research from the British newspaper “The Guardian,” the data came from a personality test conducted by a psychologist and data scientist at Cambridge University, at the end of which participants had to agree to access their profiles and contacts. Within just a few weeks, data came from 320,000 users, each with an average of around 160 linked records, whose owners, in turn, had no knowledge of reading their profile information. According to the Guardian, Cambridge Analytica acquired the entire package of survey and secondary data at a cost of one million British pounds.

Forestry instead of Facebook

If you turn your back on Facebook, you probably have more time for yourself. The Forest App for iPhone and iPad rewards your absence from the web: every time you want to focus, plant a tree. Over time, your trees form a forest. Many sponsors even plant trees and contribute to the climate. Also available as an extension for the web browser Chrome.

In 2014, the company used insights from the personality profiles, according to its co-founder Alexander Nix, in 44 US election campaign candidates. In the presidential campaign of 2016, Cambridge Analytica provided the team of candidate Donald Trump with the insights to make customized messages for potential voters and sympathizers of the opposing political camp – the company itself speaks of a “crucial role” in the surprising victory of the then-outsider.

But not only the US seems to be affected by the data protection scandal. The referendum campaign “BeLeave”, which was in favor of Britain’s exit from the European Union, is said to have received donations amounting to 650,000 euros in 2016 from the “Vote Leave” movement of today’s British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson. These in turn flowed to a Canadian data analysis firm, which had worked closely with Cambridge Analytica. The company could have contributed directly and indirectly to the success of the referendum.

What has happened since the data protection scandal at Facebook?

After initial silence, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized in the meantime the users of the social network. To the US television channel “CNN” he spoke of a “great breach of trust”. At the same time, the company had advertisements printed in British newspapers, in which it regretted not having done more to protect its users. Zuckerberg himself took responsibility for the events on Facebook and promised improvement, but sees his company as a victim of Cambridge Analytica.

Tracking only with consent

Business models based on data collection could face a rudimentary shift. As data protection experts reported at a symposium in Hamburg in March, tracking on websites without the explicit consent of the visitor could be banned as early as May 2018. The regulation should apply to all websites that are addressed to German users. In other words, if a website offers German contents or goods in euros, the operator must inform the user about the possible collection of his data so that he can voluntarily object or agree to the tracking. A secret profiling would thus be prevented.

In the United States, the Department of Trade Inspectorate has been investigating the case, and some US states are using their prosecutor’s office to seek information from Facebook. Also, the UK DPA determined. The European Parliament, according to its president Antonio Tajani company boss Mark Zuckerberg summoned for a personal questioning. The German Minister of Justice Katarina Barley has already received high-ranking European representatives from Facebook.

On the stock exchange, the affair caused the Facebook share price to plummet. In addition, US shareholders filed lawsuits against the company. Their allegation: Facebook has made false and misleading statements to investors and thus misled them.

What can I do myself?

Play not least because of recent events with the thought to a Facebook exit? Then you should consider in advance how radical this should be. Because Facebook offers not only the possibility of the final deletion of your account and thus of all your data, but also its deactivation.

What initially sounds semantically similar could not be as different in consequence. Because if you opt out, you’ll only “sleep” your Facebook account indefinitely to keep the backdoor open for reactivation. Your personal data will remain – including all personal photos and posts – Facebook, so that you may be able to access them later.

Can I use Messenger without a Facebook account?

Many users forget in their exit-zeal that the social network is also connected to the Facebook Messenger – and thus perhaps the daily connection to friends, family and colleagues. After all, the news service combined 1.2 billion active users in 2017 – and as many as Whatsapp, which also belongs to Facebook. What many do not know: The Messenger can be used on the iPhone and iPad without an existing Facebook account. Similar to Whatsapp, giving your mobile number is enough to continue chatting.

To set up, start the messenger to select the small entry “Not on Facebook” at the bottom left – the app now guides you step by step Step through the installation.

There’s a catch, though: if you have deleted your Facebook account before, your former contacts will only appear in your list if they have their mobile number in their profile. You must reconnect with everyone else.

Deleting your Facebook account also means removing all your stored data, photos and videos within the social network. After Facebook has executed your deletion, these are not recoverable. You should therefore secure it in advance.

Other considerations may also play a part in your decision. Are you contributing to certain groups on Facebook or have you even founded one? Delete or disable your account, they are no longer accessible to you.

And does your employer like it when you like, share, and comment regularly on company communications? Does internal company communication even take place within a Facebook group or via Facebook Messenger? Then perhaps enough already the detailed occupation with the privacy settings of Facebook, to sleep at least a little quieter.

Alternatives to Facebook

I am interested in news, follow companies and want to reach others: Twitter
I look at many photos of my friends: Instagram
I’m technically interested: Google+
I’m artistically interested: Ello
I combine pictures and texts: Tumblr
I like to chat with friends: News, Signal, Telegram, Threema
I would like to stay up to date on concerts in the area: Bandsintown

Workshop: How To Disable Your Facebook Account Temporaril

Workshop: How to delete your user account on Facebook final

Stop Facebook Tracking

Facebook merges the data of its users into so-called personality profiles. These aim to provide as detailed a picture as possible of the interests and preferences of the individual users. But for this picture to be complete, exploring the activity within your own Facebook network is not enough – and so the company uses a variety of services to “track” you throughout the Web. This happens in many different ways – for example through the use of cookies, tracking pixels and social plug-ins such as Facebook-Like-Buttons. Research shows that even if you have not maintained or deleted an account on the online network, Facebook will be on your digital heels.

Apple CEO Tim Cook calls for “profound change”

With the announcement of the scandal surrounding the data analysis company Cambridge Analytica, more and more influential entrepreneurs turn against Facebook. Billionaire Elon Musk had the pages of his companies Tesla and Spacex shut down and the “Playboy” magazine shut down its pages. The Commerzbank, the Mozilla Foundation and the audio manufacturer Sonos, however, put their advertising on Facebook.

But Apple CEO Tim Cook also spoke on the sidelines of a trip to China. He called for “well-crafted rules” against the misuse of user data, even though he is in principle not a friend of regulations. However, the current situation is fatal. Cook literally says, “Knowing which pages you’ve visited for years, which contacts you care for and what you dislike and dislike may not be, in my view.”
According to Cook, Apple is concerned about the arbitrary disclosure of data the often ignorant user. He said to the US news channel MSNBC that “Apple could probably make tons of money monetizing its users’ data – but customers are not Apple’s product.”

Fortunately, there are free tools and system settings that make data acquisition on Mac, iPhone and iPad difficult or impossible. We’ve put together the most important ones for you.

Stop Tracking in Safari

Apple has provided its own Safari browser with tracking protection. To enable it on the Mac, open “Settings” in the “Safari” menu. Safari has a “Privacy” tab in the Preferences window. Be sure to tick the box next to “Prevent cross-site tracking”. For the tracking about Facebook usable data deletes Safari now at regular intervals. If you also wish that the currently visited website does not store your data, you can use the option “Disable tracking by websites” to cause Safari to send a corresponding request for suspension on every call – this can ignore the website.

2 Stop tracking in Chrome

Although Google is known as a very hard-working data collector, its browser also Chrome offers an on-board feature to stop tracking – but only for currently visited websites. To prevent cross-site tracking, you should install an additional extension. You’ll find Chrome’s own feature in the program settings. Scroll to the “Advanced” entry to open the “Security and Privacy” settings. Enable “Send a Do Not Track Request with Browser Access” here.

3 Stop Tracking in Firefox

With Firefox dedicated to privacy, it’s no wonder that the Mozilla browser also has an entry called “Privacy and Security” in the program settings. The section “Protection against Activity Tracking” provides quite extensive settings. This way, you can optionally suppress cross-website tracking only for private surfing or generally. A steady request to prevent data from being stored on individual web pages is sent with the “Always” setting in the “Sites sending a Do Not Track” section.

4 Even more protection against trackers with browser Plug-ins

For many users, the on-board means of the web browser are (justifiably) insufficient. In order to increase the security against data being fished, the use of third-party browser extensions is a good option. Ghostery, which exists in plug-in versions for all major browsers and has recently been declared open source, is working very efficiently. The extension lists all blocked elements in a very nice interface.

Checklist before Facebook exit

  • Download Facebook data (see workshop)
  • My most important friends and followers inform
  • Alternate Messenger install
  • Maybe join another social network
  • Create usernames and passwords for web pages that you have previously logged in to Facebook (Spotify, …)
  • Install Ghostery or Ublock Origin

Similarly popular is Ublock Origin, which is also available in the Mac versions for Safari, Chrome and Firefox. Although the data output is not quite as substantial and extensive as in Ghostery, but the extension was recently ennobled with the predicate “Very good” by the “Stiftung Warentest”. Like Ghostery, Ublock is available free of charge and also serves as an ad blocker.

5 Prevent Tracking on iPhone and iPad

Apple also has an anti-tracking feature on the iPhone and iPad versions of its Safari web browser granted. To activate, open the “Settings” of your smartphone or tablet and switch to the entry “Safari”. In the “Privacy and Security” section, enable the “Reject Web Site Tracking” feature.

Protection throughout the Network

The eBlocker protects all devices registered in a WLAN as an external hardware solution – no matter if it concerns Macs, iPhones, iPads, etc. Windows or Android devices. Once connected to the router, the German data protection solution blocks Tracker, blurs the digital fingerprint on the network and protects against malware and phishing.

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