The real way Facebook knows so much about you (and how to stop it)
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Is Facebook always listening? The truth is, it doesn't need to.
Big Tech companies have far easier ways of gathering information on you. Take Google. If you use Gmail, Google Drive, YouTube, Google Podcasts, and an Android phone, think about every bit of information you willingly pass along. Tap or click to erase what Google knows about you.
On Facebook, your activity speaks volumes. Say you join a "buy nothing" group. Facebook might guess you value sustainability or just love saving money. This detail goes into its highly specific profile of you. Tap or click here to get free stuff in your neighborhood.
Facebook also knows what you do elsewhere because you might have connected apps sharing your data. You can stop that.
A smartphone with Facebook's logo is seen in front of displayed Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
See the apps and games you have added to Facebook
If you’ve clicked "Connect with Facebook" or enabled apps or games directly through Facebook over the years, you may have lots of third parties watching what you do. Here’s how to check.
On a computer:
- Click the downward arrow in the top right of Facebook.
- Tap Settings & Privacy > Settings.
- Select Apps and Websites in the left side menu.
- Open the Facebook app. Tap the three horizontal lines in the top right corner.
- Select Settings & Privacy > Settings.
- Scroll down to Security, then click Apps and Websites.
- Select Logged in with Facebook.
On an iPhone:
- Open the Facebook app and tap the three-line menu in the lower right.
- Select Settings & Privacy > Settings.
- Scroll down to the Permissions section, then click Apps and Websites.
I bet you’ll be surprised to see everything that has access to your account — and what’s receiving your data.
Remove connected apps from Facebook
The best way to get more privacy is to stop these apps from communicating with each other. They have a vast network they use to share your data.
Once you reach Apps and Websites following the steps above, you see a list of the many apps and websites connected to Facebook.
Hit Remove next to each app to stop them from collecting your data and sharing information with Facebook.
Removing an app from the App Center means it can no longer access your data. However, this doesn’t delete the data the app already has on you — it just prevents future sharing. It may still have a profile in its records. You can contact the developer directly to ask them to delete this info.
Apps you remove from the App Center may still send you emails. Just open any unwanted emails and click the unsubscribe button.
You will lose access to the game or app, so be sure you’re OK losing years of high scores if you remove a favorite from your Facebook account.
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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters, and more, visit her website at Komando.com.