Facebook app on phone 2
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

No one should be giving Facebook free access to their data. We still haven’t forgotten about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which made us truly realize just how much private information Facebook has eyes on. So, how can you protect your data? You can always leave the social network completely. A less drastic solution is to change your Facebook privacy settings. Here are a few ways to do just that.

See also: All Facebook apps, where to get them, and what they do

How to update Facebook privacy settings


Deactivate your Facebook account

Facebook deactivate account

One way to step away from Facebook eyes is to deactivate your account. This removes your profile from Facebook, but keeps all of your information on the company’s servers. And it takes only a few clicks to reactivate your account down the line if you decide to come back.

To be clear, your information is not publicly visible while your profile is deactivated, no matter which apps were previously given access to your profile. However, your information still exists, so this is not as secure as deleting your account.

Read more: How to delete your Facebook account

To deactivate your account, click on the arrow-down button and head to Settings & Privacy > Settings > Your Facebook information > Deactivation and deletion. Click View, followed by Deactivate account. Finally, hit Continue to Account Deactivation. You’ll be prompted to enter your password, and then you’ll see a page where Facebook explains what will happen if you deactivate. At the bottom of that page is the Deactivate button. Hit that, and your profile will be instantly removed from Facebook.

To reactivate, all you need to do is log in again. You’ll run through a series of prompts to get your profile back up, but everything will be just the way it was before you left: all your photos, status updates, and apps will be back online.

Step-by-step instructions on how to deactivate your Facebook account:

  1. Go to Facebook.com and log into your account.
  2. Click on the arrow down button on the top-right corner of the screen.
  3. Select Settings & Privacy.
  4. Head into Settings.
  5. Go into Your Facebook information.
  6. Go to Deactivation and deletion.
  7. Click the View option.
  8. Select Deactivate account.
  9. Hit Continue to Account Deactivation.
  10. Enter your password and hit Continue.
  11. Click the Deactivate button.

Delete your Facebook account

Facebook delete account

Facebook doesn’t want you to delete your account. In fact, it used to make you jump through many, many hoops to get to this option. This isn’t the case anymore. Deleting your Facebook profile is simple, but you should take a couple of steps before doing so.

The first thing you want to do is back up your data. Facebook lets you download a .zip file with all your photos and personal details, so deleting your profile doesn’t erase memories. Look for the arrow-down button in the top-right corner of Facebook. Go to Settings & Privacy > Settings > Your Facebook information. Under Download your information, select View. Ensure you’ve selected All time in the date range menu and High in the media quality menu. All that’s left is to click the Create File button and wait. Depending on how much media you have uploaded to the social network over the years, this might take a while. Facebook will notify you when your .zip file is ready to download.

Read next: How to tweak your Instagram privacy settings 

Once your data is safely saved to your PC, return to the Your Facebook information section and click View next to Deactivation and deletion. You will be taken to a page that provides you with the option to deactivate or delete your profile. If you are dead set on leaving Facebook, select Delete account and click the blue Continue to Account Deletion button. Just like deactivating, you will be prompted to re-enter your password.

Before you proceed, you should remember that Messenger no longer works without a Facebook account. Your profile on that app will be deleted, too, along with all of your messages. If you don’t mind that and you’ve already downloaded your data, all that’s left is to click the Delete account button, and you’re off of Facebook forever.

We should note that Facebook collects information on non-users too. If you want to make sure your data is safe, your best bet is to use a privacy-oriented browser that blocks third-party cookies, including social cookies. We recommend using Firefox with its Facebook Container add-on.

Step-by-step instructions on how to delete your Facebook account:

  1. Go to Facebook.com and log into your account.
  2. Click on the arrow down button on the top-right corner of the screen.
  3. Select Settings & Privacy.
  4. Head into Settings.
  5. Go into Your Facebook information.
  6. Go to Deactivation and deletion.
  7. Click the View option.
  8. Select Delete account.
  9. Hit Continue to Account Deletion.
  10. Enter your password and hit Continue.
  11. Click the Deactivate button.

Update your Facebook privacy settings

Facebook app on phone 3
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Facebook is just too convenient to let go! What if you don’t want to deactivate or delete your Facebook account? Tightening up your Facebook privacy settings is the next best step you can take. These settings used to be much more buried, but lately, Facebook has made it very simple to manage your privacy.

Step-by-step instructions on how to access your Facebook privacy settings:

  1. Go to Facebook.com and log into your account.
  2. Click on the arrow down button on the top-right corner of the screen.
  3. Select Settings & Privacy.
  4. Head into Settings.
  5. Go to Privacy.
  6. From here, go option by option and edit how you see fit.

Facebook also has a neat feature called Privacy Checkup, making it easier to edit your settings, with cool graphics and all.

Step-by-step instructions on how to access Facebook Privacy Checkup:

  1. Go to Facebook.com and log into your account.
  2. Click on the arrow down button on the top-right corner of the screen.
  3. Select Settings & Privacy.
  4. Hit Privacy Checkup.
  5. Go setting by setting and adjust options to your preference.

Check your Off-Facebook activity

Off Facebook activity Android app

Many apps and websites interact with Facebook and send data about your activity. This could include opening an app, making a purchase or a donation, and much more. This activity is personally identifiable to Facebook because it’s tied to your profile. If you want to know more about it and disconnect the activity from your account, check out our detailed guide here.

Related: The best antivirus apps for Android


Opt out of Facebook facial recognition

Face recognition Facebook privacy setting

This feature has been around for years, but many users only found about it recently, thanks to a class-action lawsuit against Facebook. The social network allegedly only uses facial recognition to improve photo tagging suggestions. Here is how to opt out of it altogether. On your desktop browser, open Facebook.com and log in. Hit the arrow-down button in the top-right corner and select Settings & Privacy. Go into Settings. Select Face Recognition. Next to Face Recognition, hit Edit. Select No in the drop-down menu.

Step-by-step instructions on how to opt out of Facebook facial recognition:

  1. Go to Facebook.com and log into your account.
  2. Click on the arrow down button on the top-right corner of the screen.
  3. Select Settings & Privacy.
  4. Head into Settings.
  5. Go to Face Recognition.
  6. Next to Face Recognition, hit Edit.
  7. Select No.

Turn off Facebook location history

Location privacy settings Facebook

If you don’t want to share your location with Facebook, one of the easiest things you can do is deny permission on your Android phone. However, if you used the app on previous versions when this option was unavailable, you can toggle it off and delete existing location data from Facebook. On your desktop browser, open Facebook.com and log in. Hit the arrow-down button in the top-right corner and select Settings & Privacy. Go into Settings. Select Location. Next to Location History, hit the Edit button. Select Off in the drop-down menu.

Step-by-step instructions on how to turn off Facebook location history:

  1. Go to Facebook.com and log into your account.
  2. Click on the arrow down button on the top-right corner of the screen.
  3. Select Settings & Privacy.
  4. Head into Settings.
  5. Go to Location.
  6. Next to Location History, hit Edit.
  7. Select Off.

Change ad preferences

Facebook ad preferences

Although you can’t guess by its name, this is one of the most important Facebook privacy settings sections you need to be aware of. You can view your interests usually pages you’ve liked or interacted with, a list of advertisers who have uploaded your information and advertised to you, and more. There are plenty of important settings to change here too. On your desktop browser, open Facebook.com and log in. Hit the arrow-down button in the top-right corner and select Settings & Privacy. Go into Settings. Select Ads. Now you can go section by section and adjust your preferences.

Step-by-step instructions on how to change Facebook ad preferences:

  1. Go to Facebook.com and log into your account.
  2. Click on the arrow down button on the top-right corner of the screen.
  3. Select Settings & Privacy.
  4. Head into Settings.
  5. Head into Ads.
  6. Adjust your preferences.

Also read: The best VPN services for Android devices


Manage apps and websites

Facebook ad preferences 1

If you use Facebook login or you’ve played some games on the social media network, this is yet another section you need to check out. On your desktop browser, open Facebook.com and log in. Hit the arrow-down button in the top-right corner and select Settings & Privacy. Go into Settings. Select Apps and Websites. Look through the list of linked services. Remove whichever you no longer want to be connected to your account.

Step-by-step instructions on how to manage apps and websites:

  1. Go to Facebook.com and log into your account.
  2. Click on the arrow down button on the top-right corner of the screen.
  3. Select Settings & Privacy.
  4. Head into Settings.
  5. Head into Apps and Websites.
  6. Adjust your preferences.

Manage contact uploads

Facebook privacy settings -- contacts upload

This is an option you can only find on your smartphone. Facebook can continuously upload your contacts to suggest new friends to you. We are not sure if this is an option enabled by default, but if you want to make sure it is disabled, you can go to Settings & Privacy > Settings > Media and contacts > Continuous contacts upload to check. Toggle it off if it’s on.

Step-by-step instructions on how to manage contact uploads:

    1. Go to Facebook.com and log into your account.
    2. Click on the arrow down button on the top-right corner of the screen.
    3. Select Settings & Privacy.
  1. Head into Settings.
  2. Head into Media and contacts.
  3. Toggle off Continuous contacts upload.

Next: These are the best privacy web browsers