Dangerous: Facebook and Instagram listens to your private conversations
Facebook and Instagram have come under increasing scrutiny for their covert data-gathering practices, which infringe upon the privacy rights of their users. Governments and cybersecurity experts have united in their efforts to combat these unethical practices. While Facebook claims not to activate smartphone microphones, it does engage in extensive tracking of users' activities across apps, websites, and physical stores, using this data to hyper-target advertisements. Instagram, owned by Facebook, follows suit in this invasive behavior.
In response to the urgent need to protect privacy, several precautions can be taken. Many experts advocate for quitting both Facebook and Instagram, a bold move that forces the apps to plead with users to stay or opt for temporary deactivation. Deleting accounts on both platforms prevents Facebook from further profiling user activities for ad targeting. However, it's worth noting that even if one quits Facebook, the company still gathers data on non-users, necessitating the maintenance of an account to access this information.
Adjusting privacy settings within Facebook is another crucial step. The "Off-Facebook Activity" setting is pivotal in countering tracking, as it severs connections between Facebook and other apps and websites. Users should also review settings granting Facebook permission to connect with third-party platforms, albeit with the caveat that this might affect logins on certain apps.
On mobile devices, one can limit app tracking, with Apple and Android offering options to control data collection. Apple's iOS allows users to restrict tracking permissions, while Google announced similar measures for Android. Privacy-conscious individuals should explore browser alternatives, as popular ones like Google Chrome do little to block tracking. Unfortunately, Google Play Store hasn't embraced tracker-blockers for Android.
Moreover, Facebook can gather information when other companies share email addresses or phone numbers. To thwart this, users can provide Facebook with less-used email addresses or utilize Apple's "Sign In With Apple" feature, which generates unique, disposable email addresses for each app, preventing cross-referencing by companies. These steps collectively help safeguard individual privacy in an age of pervasive digital surveillance