Joining Facebook in 2019
March 25, 2019 11:25 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering getting a Facebook account. In light of the Facebook/Instagram/WhatsApp integration, what do I need to consider when signing up in order to maximize privacy and minimize infiltration of my online life (basically re-asking this question from 5 years ago)? I also have an Instagram account.

I have managed to avoid having a Facebook account up to now, but a recent change in family dynamics would make having one the best way to keep in touch with loved ones. I would only connect with a very select list of people if I were to join. I also have an Instagram account, which I have signed up with using my primary email. I have no wish to connect my Instagram and Facebook accounts. Is it worth creating a new email account specifically for Facebook, or should I just give in to the Zuckerberg-singularity? Any other advice, tips, or tricks for creating a Facebook account in 2019?
posted by Rora to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you don't want anyone you've ever emailed to find you on FB, I'd get a new FB-only email. I signed up for FB late, and tried to create a dummy account so I could poke around before I was actually on, but I used a real email for it, and everyone else on FB who had given FB permission to use their email contacts to find their friends found me immediately. There weren't any meaningful repercussions, but I was horrified.
posted by LizardBreath at 11:35 AM on March 25, 2019 [7 favorites]

Separate email, yes, but the biggest thing is not granting direct access to Contacts on your devices. That's key to how the FB leviathan creates shadow profiles and establishes connections beyond the ones you explicitly make.
posted by holgate at 11:56 AM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Do you already use WhatsApp? If so, and you use the same email for fb, fb will then have access to your phone number.

If you don’t WhatsApp (or you use a different email address for fb), resist fb’s repeated attempts to give it your mobile number “for security purposes”. I’ve successfully resisted this and after the last big data breach, when everyone was downloading their fb data and discovering it had a log of every call they’d ever made, my fb account had an empty phone log. That said, I signed up for fb many years ago - I don’t know if people signing up now have the option not to hand over their phone number.
posted by penguin pie at 12:02 PM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Don't add your phone number to any accounts, or if you are forced to initially for some kind of security verification, remove it when possible. They will match your various accounts by the same phone number (and if other people sharing their contacts and they have your phone number, they will be able to extrapolate connections via shadow profiles as mentioned above).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:04 PM on March 25, 2019

You use the browser on your phone to access Facebook, instead of using the dedicated app. However, if you're on the mobile site and try to send a message, it'll force you to switch to the Messenger app to send it.
posted by gimonca at 12:16 PM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ghostery is an extension for most major browsers that blocks trackers, like ones used by Facebook. I highly recommend installing it and applying the strictest settings, because Facebook tracks and aggregates data even for users who have no account with any of their products.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 12:22 PM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

A good thing to know about FB messages through a phone browser is that you can request the desktop site and then access your messages rather than having to install the Messenger app. You won't be able to see message requests that way, but you can respond to messages from people who you're already in touch with (which it sounds like is the only people you'd be interested in getting messages from).
posted by Illuminated Clocks at 12:55 PM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

1. Don't use the app on your phone. It tries every method to get your contacts, location, etc
2. Facebook Container for Firefox makes sure that any Facebook (or associated links) sites open in a walled garden that can never see the rest of your browser profile
posted by scruss at 2:12 PM on March 25, 2019 [6 favorites]

Would you be willing to spell out how you plan to use FB? I know you've decided it's the way you have to go, but just in case there's an alternative, or in case someone finds this thread who wants to create an alternative, it might be helpful for the world to know what you need that you currently don't think you can get anywhere else.
posted by amtho at 2:23 PM on March 25, 2019

I use a separate email and a not real name because I'm way too easy to find with my legal name. I have never given them my phone number and I don't use it to connect to any other accounts.
posted by quince at 2:49 PM on March 25, 2019

Get a Google Voice number to use for fb; they will demand a phone number. Use a separate email. Do not give your accurate date of birth; d-o-b is used for security so many places, fb doesn't need it and will share it with everybody.

Don't use fb messenger on your phone; as Illuminated Clocks says, you can select Request Desktop Site on your mobile browser to get fb messages. You may also have to change the URL to remove the 'm' in to get the desktop site, but then you can get messages. I tell everybody I don't use fb messaging consistently and that it's not a reliable form of contacting me; many of my friends pay no attention and send stuff when I'm not at a computer, and I check because maybe the meeting time or place changed.

You might want to munge your name, using a non-standard character to make it less available in search. Who says you *don't* have a Croatian character in your name?
posted by theora55 at 4:52 PM on March 25, 2019

A handful of my friends use fake or partial names on Facebook. For example, Jane Middle Doe might have the Facebook name Jane Middle or the name Jayne Doh. I don't know how effective those are at preventing Facebook from connecting your profile to your real identity, but they're relatively effective at preventing aquaintances from finding your FB profile while still making you identifiable when you leave a comment on someone's page.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:24 PM on March 25, 2019

Ghostery is an extension for most major browsers that blocks trackers, like ones used by Facebook.

I’d use Privacy Badger instead as it is (a) from the non-profit EFF instead of some private, for-profit company, and (b) in recent versions, has code specifically to strip out the newish link tracking in Facebook.
posted by D.C. at 7:48 PM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry to pop back in so late but to answer amtho's question, someone has created a private Facebook Group to help people keep in touch. If I don't create a Facebook account, then I'd need to ask everyone in the group to use some other platform.
Anyways, I made a new email account and tried to create a Facebook account with it. Added a photo, made a friend request. Then I was asked to submit a second photo in order to confirm my identity. Now my account has been disabled. I'm thinking this was not meant to be...
posted by Rora at 9:05 AM on March 27, 2019

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