While reading an article about Facebook and privacy I read that the program tracks your location. How do I see what data it has and potentially delete it all?
As Facebook has become bigger and bigger, people have paid surprisingly little attention to the information that the company was collecting on its billions of users. Yes, billions: By latest estimate, Facebook has over 1.3 billion active daily users. That’s a lot of people and a lot of data. Since many people use Facebook from a mobile device – probably mostly mobile phones and smartphones – it’s easy for the company to glean location. But do you want Facebook to be logging this information and tracking your location? Probably not so much.
Interestingly, though, the company seems to have really stepped back what it’s doing in this area, probably a combination of all the privacy gaffes that have been exposed and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In any case, let’s have a look and see where you can check what Facebook is logging with your own personal data and, while we’re at it, also see if it’s analyzing your face and trying to match it to ID you in photos your friends and family upload.
Let’s start on the regular computer interface to Facebook. Go to “Settings” from the main menu on the top right and then look on the left side at all the categories of Settings. You’ll see this:
Let’s start with the face recognition since that’s both creepy (do you want Facebook analyzing your facial characteristics so it can identify you in photographs?) and easy to disable. Click on “Face Recognition” on the menu and you’ll see something like this:
You can see that by default I have mine enabled. Hmm…. maybe not what I want. A click on “Edit” and it’s easily changed:
That’s easily changed. Now, what about the “Location Settings“? Go back to the menu on the left and click on the corresponding option. It will explain why this isn’t a big deal (to them!) and that you can change it as desired:
Where it gets interesting is if you click on “View your location history“. Do so, and you’ll see a map with your logged locations superimposed, if any. There’s a tiny “•••” link on the top right too. Click on it to gain access to the following menu:
As suggested, if you have logged locations, they’ll be on the left side. On the right, choose “Delete all location history” within Facebook and you’ll get a confirmation dialog:
Easily delete. Now, where this gets interesting is that you can also do this from the mobile app itself. Here’s the first screen with the map, from the Facebook for iOS (iPhone X) app:
You can see that I do have Location History enabled and can, again, tap on “View your Location History” to see what’s recorded. Or not:
In a sign of a nicely consistent user experience, the “•••” button shows up on the top right again, even here on the mobile app. Either way, however you get there, now you can see where you are, what locations it’s tracking, delete logged locations and disable the feature entirely. Hope that helps you wrest control of your location – and face – privacy as desired!