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As a college student, Facebook and Messenger are virtually necessary to have in my life for communicating with clubs, classmates, finding housing, and more. As much as I want to get rid of them, it's not an option. Still, how can I reduce the amount of information they glean from me as much as possible?

I'm not worried about them seeing my activity while I'm using Facebook or Messenger as that's unavoidable, but I'd like to avoid information from third parties being sent to them or associated with my Facebook account somehow.

The main thing I'm worried about is browser-based tracking. I am only logged into Facebook on one browser (Mac Safari with adblocker) across both my computers and mobile devices. I also have the Facebook and Messenger apps installed on my iPhone with as greatly restricted permissions as possible. Assuming I want to be able to use Facebook from my phone and I can't delete the Messenger app, is it better to use the Facebook app or log in through Safari?

  • If I'm logged in on Safari, then they can track me on other websites I visit more easily. Is it ignorant of me to assume they can't do this if I've never logged in through the browser?
  • I don't trust Facebook not to do sketchy stuff through their apps, but I can't delete the Messenger app because I need notifications. Is it ignorant of me to assume that anything Facebook can do with two apps they can do with one app (Messenger)? If that's true, then keeping both apps and not logging in through a browser seems like the "safer" solution.

I have a pi-hole and use it for adblocking. I can't straight up block Facebook domains, but is there any way it could be useful (e.g. block Facebook requests from certain devices, apps, websites)?

I know 99% of the data Facebook collects on me is out of my control, but I'd still like to minimize the remaining 1% as much as I can. Thanks!

Update: Per Jeroen's suggestion, I have quarantined Facebook to Firefox. Going above and beyond, I have set Little Snitch to block ALL requests to Facebook from my entire computer, with the exception of Firefox. I also have it set to block all requests from Firefox to any site but Facebook and a few others (Mozilla, DDG, CDNs, etc.). I also changed my user agent on Firefox because why not. Hopefully this helps keep Facebook separate from the rest of my online presence. For now, I'm keeping the Facebook app though.

  • As far as web browsing goes, why not use one web browser dedicated for Facebook and another web browser for all your other things? – Jeroen Mar 4 at 9:22
  • Yeah, I was thinking about that and I guess it is probably the best way to go. I'll try it out and see how it goes. Thanks! – Leo Adberg Mar 4 at 9:25
  • what have the Tag raspberry-pi to do with this question? – Serverfrog Mar 4 at 9:52
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    I was hoping to get suggestions relating to the pi-hole. – Leo Adberg Mar 4 at 9:55
  • It’s not helpful advice given you want to use Facebook, but the most comprehensive answer to “how can I use Facebook and maintain my privacy?” is that you should not use Facebook***. (***Possibly, maybe, in the speculative opinion of one Internet person who doesn’t want Facebook to sue them.) – securityOrange Mar 4 at 13:17
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Here are some habits I've implemented in order to limit Facebook's reach on my personal info:

  • I have a browser dedicated to using Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) and don't use it for anything else
  • I have one of those anti-track plugins on my main browser that basically removes any known embedded trackers (Google Analytics, Facebook share buttons etc.). Remember, Facebook builds a profile on you even when you're not logged in.
  • On my phone, I only use Messenger Lite and if I need to use Facebook, I log in through the browser, using a private tab.
  • If you have an Android phone, disable chat heads.
  • Disable as many permissions to the Messenger Lite app as you can afford. Especially location.

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