There are plenty of reasons that you shouldn’t use social networks like Facebook, beyond the tired but annoyingly true precept that scrolling through your News Feed is a pretty reliable way to waste time. If you log in to the social network regularly, it’s easy to fall into habits that can undermine your relationships, and it’s far too easy to inadvertently post things that you shouldn’t. But even those aren’t reasons, on their own, that you shouldn’t use Facebook. Read on to learn about the reasons that will really have you reconsidering whether you should log in to the social network each day.
1. Facebook enables companies to track your movements online
When you use Facebook, you’re giving the social network access to a lot of information about you — information that it can use to show you ads and try to sell you things. And as of a couple of years ago, Facebook began using information about the websites you browse and the apps you use in order to show you more relevant ads. As Christina Bonnington reported for Wired mid-2014, Facebook had been serving ads based on what you actively shared with the social network, as well as Pages and statuses that you’d liked.
Facebook’s knowledge of your web history and app usage — as collected by websites that embed Facebook’s like button, offer its social login, or use its measurement and advertising services — not only helps the social network to show you ads, but enables it to share information about you with apps, websites, and services that are integrated with the social network. Information about you is shared with advertising, measurement, and analytics services, as well as with Facebook’s vendors, service providers, and other partners. That information can include things like your location, your gender, your email address, your phone number, your relationship status, and more.
You can stop Facebook from using your web history for ad targeting by using the Digital Advertising Alliance’s consumer choice page, and then by installing an ad blocker. You’ll want to turn off ad tracking in Facebook’s mobile app by opting out of interest-based ads on Android or limiting ad-tracking on iOS. And you can also look up the list of apps that have access to information about you, and dive into whether or not they should really be able to track you.