Facebook may control most of your data, but you can take protective steps. Here's what you need to know.
Facebook Privacy: 10 Settings To Check
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For one week in early 2012, Facebook toyed with the emotions of nearly 700,000 unsuspecting users, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
To determine whether Facebook could change the emotional state of users, the social network manipulated newsfeeds to show more positive posts to some people and negative posts to others. In instances where users were shown more positive posts, they were more likely to share positive statuses. Conversely, users who were shown more negative posts were more likely to share negative status messages.
While experts debate whether or not the experiment was ethical, most agree that it was legal: Facebook's Terms of Service state that in using the social network, people relinquish their use of their data for "data analysis, testing, [and] research."
Facebook may have a stranglehold on most of your data, but there are settings that prevent the social network from using it in certain ways. Here's a look at the information you can protect, including your search history, location data, and online browsing habits.
1. Delete your Facebook search data Whether you search for a hashtag, someone's profile, or a new page to follow, Facebook tracks -- and records -- your every query. While you don't have much control over the other tidbits Facebook collects and stores about you and your habits, you can clear your search history.
To do this, start at your Activity Log. This shows you all your recent Facebook activity, such as photos you commented on, pages you liked, and searches you performed using Graph Search. Click More from the left-side navigation, then click Search. Your entire search history will load, provided you have never deleted it before.
From here, you can remove individual searches by clicking the Block icon and selecting Remove. If you want to clear all of it, click the Clear Searches link at the top. Click Clear Searches in the popup that appears; Facebook says it tracks your searches to "show you more relevant results."
2. Clear your Facebook location history Facebook launched a new feature in April called Nearby Friends, which tracks, stores, and shares your location with your Facebook friends. If you use this feature or have used it in the past, the social network has a database of every location you've visited -- whether or not you were using the app at the time.
When you turn on Nearby Friends, you also turn on Facebook Location History. Facebook will add your locations to the Location History section of your activity log, but only you will be able to see this. The good news: You can switch it off and delete your location history.
To turn off your Location History, tap the More button within your mobile
Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio
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