It doesn’t really matter how cautious you are about sharing information about yourself on Facebook, Facebook’s personal file on you is still very extensive and growing with every move you make both online and offline.
Facebook has been creating a kind of map of humanity which is in line with its mission of ‘bringing the world together’, and each one of us represents a tiny node on this map.
This article gives you a breakdown of what kind of information Facebook has on you.
Setting up a Facebook profile
When setting up your Facebook profile you are essentially opening up the file on yourself with the information that Facebook asks you to complete when creating an account.
Firstly, Facebook asks you to supply the following information:
- Your name
- Your birthdate
- A phone number or email address
Next, when filling out your profile you supply Facebook with other information about yourself like:
- Your hometown or where you currently live
- The school(s) you attended
- Past and current occupations
- Your relationship status
This information forms the basis of the profile Facebook uses to send you ads.
Think about it, how else could Facebook know to send you those clever ads for t-shirts based on the school or university you attended?
Your Movements and Habits on Facebook
When logging onto Facebook, Facebook basically knows every move you are making on the website and on its apps.
- Facebook can see exactly where you are logging in from, which is how it welcomes you to new places while suggesting places for you to visit. You also personally help this along by checking into places.
- Facebook knows exactly what purchases you have made from, or even through the site.
- The company can gather the metadata from the photos that you upload.
- Facebook can even gather additional information on you from the posts and photos that your friends tag you in.
Yes, Facebook even knows what’s going on in your Facebook Messenger.
Although Facebook doesn’t technically sit and read all your messages, the company does run an automated scan through your messages checking for banned content like child pornography and terrorist activity.
Through Messenger, Facebook can collect information like who you are talking to, how often you are talking to them and how long you have been talking to them for.
Even with all this information, Facebook claims that they do not send you adverts based on the conversations you are having with someone on Messenger.
Facebook and Beyond
Through its own site, Facebook can gather endless amounts of information on you, but it doesn’t stop there, Facebook still sees you outside of its own site.
- Even without giving Facebook permission to access your phone’s GPS, Facebook still knows your location because the company can track the IP address of the device(s) you use to access its site.
- Facebook states on its policy page that the company receives information about your purchases as well as online and offline actions from third-party data providers who have the rights to provide them with your information.
- Facebook also has tools that partner websites use to integrate with Facebook. These include the ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ buttons as well as a tracking cookie known as Facebook Pixel.
Facebook and Your Apps
As a shortcut when signing into certain apps you can use the Facebook Login feature because many of these apps are connected to Facebook.
This makes logging into new sites a lot easier, but we forget that by doing this we are giving Facebook access to more information about us.
Not too long ago, outside apps were using this system to access your Facebook data and to also gather a lot of information about you, but as a security measure
Facebook has implemented stricter rules and has even implemented a review process for apps that want more than just your basic information.
Facebook at Home and Around Town
Facebook launched two home video chat devices that include voice calling and a camera.
They also allow users to access a number of media apps.
In short, they are cameras that live in your home.
From this device Facebook can gather information about who you call and how long the call takes because it is connected to Facebook Messenger.
Just like with Facebook Messenger, Facebook claims that it does not monitor or record these calls.
Outside your home Facebook can still gather information about your whereabouts from retail point-of-sale locations and beacons, even when you are offline.
Facebook and Your Information
Although Facebook claims that the company does not sell your information, it does use the data about you to sell you to advertisers who are targeting specific audiences. This helps to make adverts more valuable.
Your information is also used to help Facebook build new products and features based on habits while making its ‘suggestions’ function more effective and valuable.
All the privacy policies put in place by Facebook allow you to take control over who sees what you are sharing on Facebook, but this doesn’t mean that you have any control over what Facebook sees about you.