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Deleting just your Facebook is an ‘artificial’ way of protecting online privacy: expert

WATCH: Which apps have your data through Facebook?

After a year full of privacy controversies, many social media users are contemplating whether deleting Facebook is the best way to protect their data.

Several have posted online throughout the year, using the hashtag #DeleteFacebook.

READ MORE: Delete Facebook? Social media users weigh options amid data scandal

The movement gained momentum once again this month, following an alarming New York Times report detailing the massive trove of user data that the company has shared with such companies as Apple, Netflix and Amazon.

WATCH: Facebook says it had consent to share users’ data, messages with other companies

Facebook says it had consent to share users’ data, messages with other companies
Facebook says it had consent to share users’ data, messages with other companies

Will deleting Facebook really help?

Cybersecurity expert Ajay Sood, who is the general manager of Symantec Canada, told Global News that deleting Facebook isn’t exactly the solution many people think it is — and the reason for that is your “shadow profile” which remains online long after you delete your actual account.

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“Facebook has two versions of your profile, your public profile and your shadow profile, which basically sits in the background,” Sood explained. “If your hope in deleting your public profile is that your private or your shadow will go — it just won’t,” he said.

“Once your content hits the internet, it’s basically there forever.”

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Sood also explained that search engines will still have access to information that was once public.

That’s why Sood said deleting a Facebook account is largely an “artificial” action when it comes to protecting privacy.

READ MORE: Facebook filed a patent for technology that uses photos to predict who you live with

However, deleting will prevent users’ future information from being posted on Facebook and therefore stored online.

“Deleting the profile stops the bleeding, but you’re already hurt. Your information is already out,” Sood said.

WATCH: Facebook executive grilled in London on fake news, privacy worries; Zuckerberg a no-show

Facebook executive grilled in London on fake news, privacy worries; Zuckerberg a no-show
Facebook executive grilled in London on fake news, privacy worries; Zuckerberg a no-show

Facebook owns other apps

Those who want to boycott Facebook in totality should also consider that the company owns Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.

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Instagram’s website explains that it shares user data with Facebook and vice versa — and also with third-party stakeholders.

“Sharing insights and information with Facebook helps us connect you with others and build a better day-to-day experience for the Instagram community,” it reads.

They also share data with advertisers, for example, if you follow something on Instagram a related ad may show up on Facebook.

Sood explained that WhatsApp in comparison to Instagram operates as more of an “island,” and is less integrated with Facebook.

WATCH: Facebook is getting into the dating game

Facebook is getting into the dating game
Facebook is getting into the dating game

However, he still urged caution, noting the example of sexting scandals where users mistakenly thought their messages were private.

“You don’t know what the application, or the recipient, is doing to do with the data [you send],” he explained.

Sharing on social media

But beyond Facebook-owned social media platforms, Sood said users should also be careful of all apps and websites that collect information — including ones like Twitter and Snapchat.

“My stance on social networking is don’t put anything out there that you wouldn’t put on your front lawn,” Sood explained.

READ MORE: Here’s how to shut intrusive apps out of your Facebook account

He said that’s especially true for apps that are free.

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“Whenever something is completely free, chances are it’s not.”

“The people and the data, those are 100 per cent the product,” he explained, adding that data collectors and advertisers are the customers.

WATCH: Advances in technology means more privacy concerns

Advances in technology means more privacy concerns
Advances in technology means more privacy concerns

— With a file from The Associated Press

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