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How Secure Are You After Facebook Account Deletion

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Some of the Facebook users opt to delete their account fearing data breaches. While deletion of Facebook account gives us a feel of privacy, will it ensure us an everlasting privacy? Let’s find out…

These days, online privacy is the talk of the hour as several of our personal and crucial data has been traded over by several giant IT companies. These enterprises mine large amounts of data, right from your browsing history to the list of apps that you have installed in your smartphone. In our country India, privacy is a fundamental right and this also includes online privacy. We cannot be taken for granted on our online data that is acquired by several Internet based companies. While privacy has been granted the status of a fundamental right in several countries, these rights are enforceable only by government and its agencies and not by private companies.

The Dilemma
Revelations around the improper acquisition of millions of Facebook users’ data for the purposes of political suasion do not inspire much confidence in the social network’s ability to protect people’s personal information. Nor it helps Facebook’s business model on selling its users out to advertisers, which is the company’s true customers. It’s tragic that most of the Facebook users are not even aware of what activities of theirs are being sold to other business companies.

As a matter of fact, for many of us, the choice isn’t so simple. Even large enterprises depend on the reach of these platforms like Facebook to promote their business. So, what’s the solution? ‘Delete’ or ‘Not To Delete’? If we were to delete our Facebook accounts, does it ensure us an everlasting privacy? Well, the answer to this question is not so simple.

Shadow Profile
Facebook is well known for being a major customer of third-party data-brokers, who compile huge dossiers on people based on their spending, Internet and phone usage, employment history and so on. Facebook also encourages its millions of end users to upload their entire address books to the system to ‘find your friends’. While the end users generally don’t appreciate that their sensitive information, including nicknames, private numbers, and connections to the system are leaked, social media companies such as Facebook are not serious about users’ privacy.

The truth is that even if you #deletefacebook, the social network probably still collects data about you. Facebook builds shadow profiles, dossiers of information on people who are not a part of its network. These profiles are fed with contact information uploaded by other users. Try as you might to make yourself invisible, slipping out of sight from the social media, Facebook hunts for your information like a hawk. The bitter truth is that Facebook’s ‘shadow profiles’ is the involuntary dossiers of information that you have never provided, and you cannot opt out of it.

Facebook mines various user’s data to create ‘shadow profiles’ out of its one billion users. These profiles are filled with data about you that you have never consciously provided to the Facebook server. In other words, these personal data are not only mined from third parties, including your friends, but also from various other spooky data-brokers. It was way back in 2013 that Facebook’s shadow profile system was first confirmed when it accidentally leaked users’ shadow profiles to them along with their own data. Later Facebook pleaded that it will never do again for the privacy of the people who provided the data that goes into the shadow profile.

Facebook’s shadow profiles are automatically created by its servers and there is no opt-out for the Facebook users. The irony is that Facebook has shadow profiles on people who don’t use the Facebook social media service. For instance, even though I am not a Facebook user and multiple Facebook users have uploaded their address books containing my email and mobile number to the Facebook server, it creates a profile out of my contacts by looking at who lists me as a contact.

Privacy Protection
The only way to get rid of shadow profile is to find every person who’s ever gotten your contact information and uploaded it to Facebook, and then ask them one by one to go to Facebook’s contact management page and delete it. Care should be taken that we should not miss anyone from the deletion process. Once a contact has been deleted, the same will be deleted from the Facebook server. But again, it is also possible that the same contact can been uploaded by someone else.

You can keep people away from finding your Facebook profile by searching your phone number or email address by the following process Clicking at the top right of any Facebook page and choose Settings. Select Privacy on the left. Under the Who can look me up? section, you’ll see a setting for your email and a setting for your mobile phone number. Use the dropdown menu next to each setting to select who can look you up using that info.

The Ground Reality
Data is the new currency for social media companies, which use consumer behavior information as a goldmine. It helps them plan their interactions better with you, sell you stuff that you may not necessarily need but are likely to buy, and even dictate your decisions. In terms of users’ privacy, there’s still a long way to go before you can protect your private data from becoming a money-making tool for social media companies.

Ultimately, all the social media companies need to fall in line with the privacy framework which I think will evolve gradually. As every single incident of privacy breach gets noticed due to heightened awareness amongst online netizens, more and more organizations are conscious about users’ privacy. It’s high time that social media companies change their existing policies on user privacy and take users’ privacy seriously.

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