Best practices for using Meta products on iOS/Mac

While I have Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp accounts I use them only grudgingly because I find them badly designed, hugely intrusive in their UI/UX and really only use them because of the relative critical mass of friends and acquaintances who do. I also believe “data mining” really only touches the surface of their malevolence, though I’m not technically savvy enough to fully grok it/mitigate it. Haven’t gone to Threads yet…

I’m now getting reasonably serious social pressure to install Messenger which has made me finally turn to my “go to” source for wise advice of this nature: TidBITS FTW!

How much do you all use these products? What is the best way to use them so as to be able to get the occasional human communication desired without allowing them to suck out all “private” aspects of my and my correspondents lives through my devices? Do you use them on iOS only or Mac apps as well? Is it best to use them only through a browser?

I have never been a tinfoil hat guy and I understand paying with money or data (or both!) I just want to use these products with wise self-interest for myself and the humans I communicate with.

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I have managed to not use any Facebook product, and though I probably would be more connected with past friends, I text current friends on Messages and Signal. I don’t use Google search either, but did have Gmail in the past. I remain very suspect about how they would use my data without my permission or control of what they have. I think that is unfair to me as they seem to be making a “bunch” of money using that data to profit off of people.

Though I would be interested in Messenger due to its security, the fact that I would have to create a Facebook account to use it makes me hesitant. Just my .02

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I’m another one that refuses to use any Meta products on my iPhone, iPad and Mac. I don’t want to be tracked.

I’ve been reading that Apple has been working on a solution to the RCS problem that should be available shortly:

I strongly suspect that if Apple does not make an announcement about this at the WWWDC event this Thursday, they will do so soon.

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I look at my Facebook page every couple of months or so. I joined years ago due to family postings there.

I use Firefox for Facebook. Firefox has the option to open a page in a “container” tab, which tries to isolate that page from cookies stored by other pages. (Facebook is known to harvest cookies from other pages, if given the access.)
Also, I put a minimum of information into my Facebook account, for example, a fake birthday, no contact data. And don’t give Facebook access to Contacts on your device!

Lately, I have found it difficult to even see the family postings on Facebook. I look through my home page, scrolling to the bottom to find things I might want to look at. Then I scroll back up to examine those items, and often they are no longer there! The Facebook algorithm has rearranged the page and removed some items! It is trying to make you “engaged”, meaning excited, angry, upset, etc.

I can still find the family postings by going directly to their pages if I am motivated enough, but it is usually not worth the trouble.

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Best practice for using Meta products: Don’t! :blush:

I created a Facebook account many years ago. I very rarely use it. I do get Facebook email once in a while alerting me to posts by a couple of people that I know. That includes a clip of their post which is usually enough to keep me informed and I avoid clicking the link.

It will be a relief if Apple introduces the ability to join discussions without data mining.

facebook/meta collects data about and tracks even people who’ve never signed up for any of their ‘services’. Intentionally feeding a despicable Big Brother wannabe seems problematic at best.

Now all of that personal data including ‘private’ conversations is being used to train their AI. People in the EU and UK can opt out until June 26 (if you can figure out the dark patterns), but elsewhere, you can only ‘request’ that your data not be used.

A smidgin of many sources:

“Zuckerberg Admits Facebook Collects Data on Non-Users”

“How Facebook Tracks You, Even When You’re Not on Facebook”

https://www.consumerreports.org/electronics-computers/privacy/how-facebook-tracks-you-even-when-youre-not-on-facebook-a7977954071/

“Meta uses “dark patterns” to thwart AI opt-outs in EU, complaint says”

“Facebook Trains Its AI on Your Data. Opting Out May Be Futile”

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I only have FB, I’ve never wanted to use the other services. I also don’t use any social media workout trackers.

I have not and will not install their Messenger app. If they finally manage to close all the backdoors into regular messages, people can forget about messaging me through FB. It’s the worst way to reach me anyway, I only get half the notifications.

I removed the app from my phone in 2018. Even with all notifications turned off, my phone would continually light up when I got one.

I use the mobile basic site in the phone browser if I need it for any reason - only catch is I can’t see Marketplace in the basic site but I can use Messenger. Browsing to regular Facebook on the phone gets me Marketplace but no Messenger. It’s way less invasive than the app though.

I’m sorry but I would absolutely not rely on a Meta product of any sort for every day messages.

Diane

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And Australia…

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OP asked for suggestions as to best practices.

There are indeed a staggering amount of ways Meta harvest data and their profiling is quite incredible. Indeed you need not ever be a user, they already know you via all your contacts, colleagues, friends, family who are.

I guess approach with caution and moderate what you choose to share and be clear about why you are there. You might select instagram to promote a project and WhatsApp to connect with Android wielding friends for example. Don’t upload your contacts but add as needed. If you’re using it to connect with folk, keep it to that, be wary of sign ups to groups or channels of interest.

See how you go. I quit Facebook over 8 years ago, did a full exit. I went back on last year with the sole purpose of joining a parents group for my daughter’s college away in Boston. Used a fake name, an email account created solely for that purpose, within a day FB recommended old school friends, neighbors…

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I access Facebook through my browsers (including on iOS). I do have Messenger loaded on iOS because otherwise it’s a complete pain to access FB messages. I’ve turned as much of the information gathering preferences off as I can, realizing that that’s a moving target. Generally, I find enough value in FB and am not that bothered by the information gathering to keep using it.

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My FB practice is to only access through a web browser and try to use Firefox’s sandbox. I can see on the web version if I have a message. Desktop will let me read it, iOS Safari will not. I have not installed Messenger on my iPhone. If I did, I would likely “crash” it after every use so that it didn’t run in the background.

Try mbasic.facebook for messages in iOS Safari. It’s stripped down but works. No access to Marketplace though.

Diane

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For the most part, I only keep my Facebook account so I can periodically check security/privacy issues for articles I write and maintain a longstanding TidBITS presence.

Apart from that, I disapprove of Meta in every way, to the point where I refuse to use anything else associated with the company (Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, Threads, etc), especially any of their apps. If someone contacts me via Messenger who I actually want to talk to, I tell them to email me.

I’m sure that I’m less aware of what people in my extended network are up to. Then again, that would have been true before Facebook too, and I didn’t feel any lack of social connection then either.

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The problem is that in large parts of the world, WhatsApp use is not optional (unless you want to live like a hermit!). It would be like saying, ‘I don’t use SMS it’s too insecure – phone me or write me a letter instead.’ On the plus side, WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted using the same protocol as Signal, so Meta can’t see any of the content. In contrast, the last time I looked (years ago), Facebook Messenger is not encrypted and I would never use it.

To be clear, I would prefer not to use WhatsApp at all and be able to use Signal for communicating with non-iPhone users. But in practical terms, both for some individuals and group messaging, WhatsApp is unavoidable unless I decided not to socialise with a large segment of my friends (which would impact on others in my family too).

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This was right until recently. The Verge It was maybe a month ago it rolled out here.

I am in the same situation with Messenger here in Norway. I hope my friends attitude changes with the media’s attention on Meta using people’s photos for AI training.

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Same in Ireland re:WhatsApp, it’s the default for most people here.

Yeah, I’ve certainly heard that about WhatsApp, and people have asked to communicate with me there. Luckily for me, anyway, I haven’t had any issues just saying no and explaining that it’s because Meta is evil at its core.

Yeah. On a recent trip overseas, our tour group set up a WhatsApp group chat, so I needed to install it. And I occasionally use to to text/call friends in foreign countries, because they don’t use iPhones (so iMessage and FaceTime aren’t options for them).

But I rarely run it - it’s just for talking with these specific people. I hope it doesn’t burn my battery spying on everything I do when the app isn’t running (as the Facebook app and TikTok are known to do). If it does, then I’ll have to uninstall it until/unless I have a need to use it again in the future.

I’m pretty sure it doesn’t do anything in the background if you have Allow Background Activity set to off in the WhatsApp section if system settings. Anecdotally I’m been overseas for the last few weeks and have had to use WhatsApp a lot more than normal (it’s usually necessary but limited to ~5%–10% of my messaging). Looking at battery usage over the past 10 days there’s nothing unexpected.

By percentage:

By activity:

If anything, it’s better than Messages which I’ve used for 50m less but has consumed a similar amount of battery. And it’s far, far better than Mail. I don’t even use Mail on my phone (I use Preside instead) so it should be right at the bottom of the list. Looks like it’s all background activity so turning that off is a battery optimisation I can make immediately!