You’ve heard it before,

Now hear it again…

Facebook IS SPYING on you.

I can’t recall ever seeing an ad for an antacid or reflux medication on my Facebook feed…ever. I haven’t searched or even typed “Reflux” or any related search term in my phone, computer browser, or anywhere.

Last night I mentioned aloud that I was going to take some Tums because I was feeling a bit “reflux-y.” Fifteen minutes later, browsing my Facebook feed, I see this:

This is not the first time something like this has happened, but it IS the most obvious example. In the past, there have been many times I’ve seen posts/ads related to things I’d searched for outside of Facebook. Proving they reach deep into other, non-Facebook ecosystems to gather as much intel on us as they can.

But clearly they are also listening even when we are not actively using the App.

Here are just a couple of the more recent articles relating this this problem. And it’s not just Facebook, folks…

I set up this blog a few days ago as an alternative to sharing on Facebook. I figure I can post my “Facebook-worthy” content here and, as I see fit, share links to my Blog posts on Facebook.

Today I have officially uninstalled the Facebook App from my phone. This isn’t another one of those “Ermergerd! DeLeTe FaCEbOOk” posts. We all know that course or action rarely works out. But we can be more careful…

Here’s what I’m going to try:

  • Primarily only use Facebook via the Webpage on my Desktop (without a camera or microphone connected; limiting their ability to spy on me)
  • When I do feel the need to use Facebook on my Phone, I will only use it via the web browser. I prefer Firefox as they have made great efforts of late to help protect your privacy. You can even go to in your phone browser and add it as a Shortcut to your home screen. That way, you can access it like an App, but not have the Facebook App installed (and always listening in the background).

Be sure you double-check your Permissions for Firefox (or your browser of choice) to deny access to the Camera and Microphone. I personally see no reason why a mobile browser would ever need access to these, and Firefox does not request them

Also, consider taking the same precautions with Instagram, since Facebook owns them, too.

Those who want to keep up with me and my life, I appreciate you! You can bookmark this blog and even pull the RSS feed into an aggregator of your choice to easily see my posts. I will continue to share these blog posts to Facebook for a while, as well. In the meantime, I will be purging all the Apps, Pages, and other crap that have accumulated access/association with my Facebook account over the years.

Some good, regular housekeeping is always necessary!

Bye Bye, Facebook

Hello readers! I promise, we will be coming out of hibernation soon. In the meantime, here’s a tidbit that many of you may already know, but I’d bet many are oblivious to:


That’s right, under default privacy and application settings, any content you post, including photography or other Intellectual Property, becomes the property of Facebook, to do with as they please. See Sections 1 and 2 from Article 2 of their ToS below. Basically, unless you specifically modify your settings to say otherwise, you are giving Facebook the right to use your content, ROYALTY FREE, and even sub-license that content to others! Really?? I don’t want to begin to think about those implications.

So you’re thinking, “Well that’s it! I’m closing my Facebook account right now!” Well, unfortunately, that’s not good enough. You see that other statement down there? “This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account UNLESS YOUR CONTENT HAS BEEN SHARED WITH OTHERS, AND THEY HAVE NOT DELETED IT”

Let’s just take a moment to analyze that statement….You posted something on Facebook. There. Too late. You shared it with others. So that means, even if you delete your Facebook account, the only way you can be sure your content does not continue to get used by Facebook is to  go to every person who you shared said content with and have THEM delete that content from THEIR Facebook accounts as well! But wait, that isn’t even enough! As stated further down: “However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time.” How vague is that?? For Facebook, maybe they decide it’s “reasonable” to keep 10 years worth of backups, or more!

(excerpt from Facebook ToS)
Sharing Your Content and Information
You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.
In addition:

  1. For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
  2. When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).
    Link to full ToS: here

I don’t know about you all, but this is one blogger who no longer feels comfortable posting much of anything on Facebook. Especially since it seems like several times a year, they change the way their Privacy and Application settings work and are worded.
So what do we do?

While Google+ reserves many similar rights to content you share through their service, they do seem to give you more control over who the content is shared with AND the ability to remove your content from their services. Being that Google offers may more services that Facebook, their ToS is more general, with the Privacy Policies of each service being more specific.

(excerpt from Google ToS)
When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones

(excerpt from Google Privacy Policy)
Many of our services let you share information with others. Remember that when you share information publicly, it may be indexable by search engines, including Google. Our services provide you with different options on sharing and removing your content. We will share personal information with companies, organizations or individuals outside of Google when we have your consent to do so. We require opt-in consent for the sharing of any sensitive personal information.

The key items for me are the additional level of control over content I share on Google Services, the ability to completely remove said content from Google’s services, and the fact that Google requires you to “Opt-In” for your personal info to be shared with others versus Facebook’s “Opt-Out or your info will be shared” approach. Also, of note is that Google does not have the right to “sub-license” your content to other entities. I also like that Google offers many Privacy Tools including a Dashboard that essentially lets you see everything you have shared through their services, content or information, and remove much of that data as you see fit. See those tools: here.

It looks like this is strike 2 and 3 for Facebook as far as I am concerned. I will be going through and deleting as much content as I can before closing/deleting my Facebook account (though it does little good) and will be focusing my future efforts in Google+.
Who’s With Me?!?

(editor’s note: As of the migration of the blog in Jan. 2020, Google+ has long since been removed from Google’s stable of services. We are all on our own to make our way in a time when Facebook has become an even bigger data giant and started buying up the competition such as Instagram and WhatsApp)