how to stop facebook from tracking you online

Did you know when you signed up for Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger, you gave them explicit permission to use your microphone? Ever wonder how targeted ads show up in your feed when you have only ever talked out loud to someone else about it?

Is Zuckerberg listening to your private conversations? No, I am afraid not.

There is no proof that a guy is sitting in an office somewhere in Menlo Park, listening to you screaming to your partner to bring you toilet paper. Facebook has denied allegations of privacy violations time after time, and as much as we want to believe they are spying on us, there is no way yet to prove it.

There’s never been any concrete evidence – beyond hearsay and anecdotes – that Facebook is recording your real-life conversations.

The fact is, the mechanics involved in listening to your private conversations and mining it for keywords wouldn’t be an easy thing. But that is not why you should know that they aren’t listening.

They don’t need to listen; they already have all the data they need from you. But, if you are not the trusting type and still want to block Facebook from having access to the microphone on your device, do the following:

On the iPhone:

  • Go to Settings
  • Choose Privacy
  • Tap Microphone
  • Toggle Facebook to OFF

On Android:

  • Go to Settings
  • Choose Apps & Notifications
  • Locate Facebook
  • Tap Permissions
  • Toggle Microphone to OFF

Easy-peasy.

how does facebook track me?

When you sign up for Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, you agree to their data policy. On Facebook, you agree to let them collect data that “includes information about the websites and apps you visit, your use of our services on those websites and apps, as well as information the developer or publisher of the app or website provides to you or us.”

Facebook also always knows your location. When Apple and Google announced new features in their operating systems that allow users to limit apps from knowing your location, Facebook threw a fit and wrote a blog post telling everyone that it would dramatically affect the user experience. Believe it or not, the blog post tries to make the argument that protecting your privacy is bad for you.

But wait, there’s more. Facebook also analyzes “photos and videos we think you’re in, such as your profile picture and photos you’ve already been tagged in, to create a template for you. We use your template to recognize you in other photos, videos and other places where the camera is used (like live video) on Facebook.” – Facebook help center

Thankfully, in the help center, they explain how to turn this “feature” off.

And finally, Facebook touts an ad marketing service called “Lookalike Audiences,” which goes even deeper into the data they collect from us and allows advertisers to target people by their ages or likes. The feature lets marketers examine their existing customers, audience, or even voters for predispositions — like big spending or left-leaning ideals — and have Facebook find other users with similar inclinations.

This information is by no means exhaustive, and if you want to find out exactly what data Facebook collects, find out straight from the source.

how do i make it stop?

Frankly, there is no way to completely stop all the data collection behind the scenes, even on other websites and platforms. But, there is a way to prevent other websites from sharing information with Facebook about you.

Go to your “Off-Facebook Activity” (the link takes you directly there), and you can see which sites and apps are sharing data. Once there, you can clear your history, turn off tracking for specific websites or apps, or stop this tracking completely. To be clear, if you turn tracking off, Facebook will still get information about your activity; it just won’t be associated with you or your account.

the only way to stop facebook, messenger, and instagram

On the internet, you and your attention are the product that platforms like Facebook are selling to the highest bidder. These platforms are making billions by giving advertisers audiences with unlimited attention.

They record every scroll and click. Every time you hesitate to look at an ad, Facebook knows you showed interest, and because they know, so does anyone with a credit card who wants to target you for an ad.

Sadly, many have given up trying to protect themselves and look at data collection as a necessary evil. They willingly trade their attention and privacy for the “privilege” of using these social media apps for free.

Until we force Facebook and the others to stop making money by monetizing our attention and activities, we may have to accept that these platforms will know our every move and will sell that information to anyone with cash money.

The only way to make sure Facebook is not tracking you and associating that data with you and your account is to delete it entirely from your lives and devices.

(Note: Before you delete your Facebook account, you may want to get a copy of your data file, especially if you have pictures you want to save.)

  • Click in the top right of Facebook.
  • Select Settings & Privacy, then click Settings
  • Click Your Facebook Information in the left column.
  • Click Deactivation and Deletion.
  • Choose Permanently Delete Account, then click Continue to Account Deletion.
  • Click Delete Account, enter your password, and then click Continue.

Source – Facebook Help

to remove facebook from your device

Android

  1. Go to your Android’s settings and open your application manager.
  2. Tap Facebook.
  3. Tap Uninstall.

– iPhone and iPad

  1. Press and hold the app icon.
  2. Tap the x that appears.
  3. To confirm, tap Delete.

Source – Facebook Help

Take it from me; life without Facebook is not horrible. As long as you don’t need Facebook to promote a business, life without can free up some time and attention for you.

If you don’t want to be so drastic and you want to keep Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, know a lot is going on behind the scenes that we don’t see, and as hard as we try, there never will be a way to be completely private on the internet.

That is unless you go off the grid and live in a van, down by the river.

I’ll bring my flannel shirt and Crocs.

the ‘nerd rapture’ could create technology that will cure mental illness

Thirty years ago, I had a dream. I dreamed that computer technology improved exponentially until computers became a trillion times more intelligent than any human could be. Instead of destroying the human race, these computers set out to help the humans who had created them.

Computers figured out newer and better ways to solve everyday problems and improve upon ideas and inventions that were destroying the earth and the minds and bodies of the humans they wanted to help.

It started with implants that would allow the human brain to interface with the computer intelligence and improve within a framework of neurons. But the computers began to see that improving within the faulty lattice of the human brain and body was futile and figured out a way for us to download our consciousness — what makes us human — into a network where we could all interact together as if we were living and breathing on earth.

The computers knew that the human psyche couldn’t handle the disconnect of no longer breathing, tasting, feeling, and seeing with our eyes, so they built a world or a matrix, but I wouldn’t use that word to describe it until Neo fought the agents onscreen in 1999.

Within this environment, the work to improve each human package continued, solving problems like mental illness, autism, dementia, and all other forms of diseases of the mind that couldn’t be solved while our minds existed within the prison of the human brain.

With technology, humans were able to evolve into a new realm of existence and occur as quantum impulses that could travel anywhere in the universe instantaneously.

This event describes a technological singularity, or what some would call the “Rapture of the Nerds,” but I wouldn’t know that minds much more intelligent than mine had conceived this reality long ago.

The Reality of The Singularity

“The technological singularity — also, simply, the singularity — is a hypothetical point in time at which technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to human civilization.” — Wikipedia

It used to be, according to Moore’s Law, that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles every two years. So we could estimate future computing power based on this rule. Still, there was also the law of accelerating returns to take into consideration, that the “pace of technological progress — especially information technology — speeds up exponentially over time because there is a common force driving it forward. Being exponential, as it turns out, is all about evolution.

Technology evolves as new technologies build on the backs of previous generations, and the growth accelerates.

“The first computers were designed on paper and assembled by hand. Today, they are designed on computer workstations with the computers themselves working out many details of the next generation’s design, and are then produced in fully automated factories with only limited human intervention.” — Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near

Technology will keep improving, and innovations like quantum computing will take the computer or artificial intelligence to a level where it no longer requires human intervention to improve. It will innovate for itself until it achieves consciousness, limitless intellect, and the power to make crucial decisions by itself.

The technology will become so advanced that people will first interface with the intelligence then download their whole consciousness into a computer, finally achieving immortality of a sort.

But, in the minds of many, this progression is not inevitable. One of my heroes, Jaron Lanier, virtual reality pioneer and technology thought leader, thinks “it’s still just a thought experiment — not a reality or even a virtual-reality hot ticket to immortality. It’s a surreality.

So even though thinkers like myself are writing stories that predict a tech-utopia, it is not a given, and thousands of other possibilities could occur instead.

But what if?

Can Limitless Technology Cure Mental Illness and Disease?

To consider if an advanced enough computer could download your consciousness, or you could interface with it through some form of implant and affect change upon the failings of the mind, we have to step back into the realm of science fiction again.

So far, scientists have been unable to create a medical or pharmaceutical cure for mental illness and the various diseases of the mind like dementia, and they have only been able to provide prophylactics that almost work on the symptoms.

What if an advanced enough computer could take the impulses of a mind, or could even change the nature of DNA to cure the demons that infect the mind of people like me?

I have a stake in this game. I have fought and come to terms with severe mental illness, only through a lifetime of hard work and medication. But I am not cured by any means, and my sick but intelligent mind is constantly coming up with ideas and realities where the failings of our brains do not limit us.

And, although I think in circles on the advice and ideas of pioneers like Paul AllenJeff HawkinsJohn HollandJaron Lanier, and Gordon Moore, I am nowhere closer to knowing if the singularity is plausible enough that I could put hope in a future where I am not fighting my mind for control of my life.

For now, I have the dream of a younger man to keep me afloat and the knowledge that one day, computer technology will advance past the point that any human ever could, and it would find a way to cure and rearrange minds that are not optimal like mine.

We have to keep studying and learning about the good that technology could do, and not listen to the naysayers who say that artificial intelligence will turn against us and destroy humanity. We have to turn away from the religions who seek our indoctrination and speak out against using technology to aid the evolution of humankind because it goes against their idea that only a god can create perfection.

Humans can hope, and for those of us who battle our minds, we look forward to a day when we are not controlled by impulses and the influence of a less than optimal mind.

We can hope.