How Much Data Has Facebook Got on You?

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We all know that social media platforms such as Facebok have a habit of tracking our search history, and perhaps sell our data on to other companies...but not to such a huge extent! Multimedia Editor Luke Unger investigates his own 'Facebook Data'...and the results are shocking!

Facebook is feeling the heat.

In the light of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent interview on Capitol Hill concerning Facebook’s role in the 2016 elections and their more than cryptic data policies, new research into how Facebook collects and uses their data is emerging, dredging out worrying finds.

Facebook track you, even after you log out of the application...

Finds such as the fact Facebook track you, even after you log out of the application, using the ‘Like’ button to track which websites you were viewing despite not being on the site itself. When asked about this by Senator Roger Wickers, Zuckerberg replied ‘it'll probably be better to have my team follow up with you on this’, clearly avoiding the question.

So, in light of this, I was curious (and a little bit terrified) to see how much data Facebook actually had on me.

Facebook has sold my information to over 160 different companies across the world!

Googling ‘How to find out how much data Facebook has on you’ comes up with a very simple way to access said data. Simply click on your settings and scroll down to the bottom, clicking on the link which says, ‘Download a copy of your Facebook Data’. After clicking on this and then clicking on ‘Download archive’, you should get a notification with your data ready to download. Simple.

An phone with the Facebook app open next to Scrabble pieces arranged in the words “social media”
Photo by William Iven / Unsplash

Scrolling through more than a Gigabyte of data, it was clear that I had clearly underestimated the Global Cooperation.

Facebook has sold my information to over 160 different companies across the world, to countries including China and Australia (I have not visited either). This data has been sold to advertisers such as Yahoo and Amazon. Apparently, Burger joints are really targeting me with information sold to 5 different companies...In fact most of the companies were either restaurants or food related companies…? I felt a little insulted.

The website also has my IP address and location every single time I have logged on to Facebook. For people logged into the app on their phone or tablet, this is constant.

Facebook messages and status are going to be viewed by potential employers as the children of the ‘technology age’ grow up.

Facebook has every single message I have sent stored away in a memory bank somewhere. I got Facebook when I was about 13 and let me just clarify, I was. Moody, crass and generally unpleasant are all words one could describe 13-year-old Luke. Translating this fact into the context of Facebook…well, let’s just say I wouldn’t want to bring 13-year-old me to a job interview. However, with these messages, undoubtedly Facebook messages and statuses are going to be viewed by potential employers as the children of the ‘technology age’ grow up.

What I find most worrying is the fact Facebook has a data profile of my face, using it to quickly tag me in photos. It does not specify whether this data is also sold. However, with the development of simulated speech, this data could potentially be used to mimic my face, allowing programmers to make that image say or do whatever they desired. Scary stuff.

Now, all of this data seems somewhat light-hearted. Understandably you may be asking yourself, ‘Why should I really care?’, ‘It’s not going to affect me?’, and for the most part, you would be correct.

However, I fear it is this attitude which, as we have already seen, led to huge amounts of data being used for malicious purposes, allowing companies like Cambridge Analytica to have such a profound effect on democracy during both the 2016 US elections and Brexit. What concerns me most is the lack of control that Facebook itself has over this data and the absence of laws regulating that data’s uses.

Saying all this, I do feel like Facebook should not be viewed as an irreparably corrupt application. During his hearing at Capitol Hill Mark Zuckerberg reminded the Senate that the main focus of Facebook as a company was to ‘bring people together’, an aim I think he has certainly achieved. Facebook is such a valuable tool to so many people globally. However, both the Facebook team and lawmakers must review current legislation in order for the site to remain safe and transparent.

Featured Image: Unsplash / Tim Bennet


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