2010, Facebook allows you to download an archive file of all your
interactions with the network. It’s a 5-click easy process that your
grandmother can do (more details below).
the .zip, lies an ‘index.html’ page that acts as a portal to
your personal data. Visually, it looks like an ad-free stripped down
version of Facebook that’s actually quite relaxing.
I’m trying to reduce my exposure to social networks, I decided to
take a look at this info. By extrapolating the data of a single
individual (me), I might be able to better apprehend the
capabilities of the beast. In the end, it all comes down to what is
tracked and what can be deduced from that.
all gave up on privacy…
we just don’t fully realise it.
you expect is there: your profile, statuses, messages, friends,
ancestor), photos, videos, comments, events. All of it in a 500mb
a lot of material and you could sift it for hours. Most of the
content is unsurprising but there are a few notable facts that are
data storage period
simply, Facebook never deletes anything. Unfriended friends, past
relationships, former employers, previous names, address book: you
created my account Friday, September 14, 2007 at 10:59am and all my
actions have been recorded ever since. I feel that for the first
time in history, 10 years of consistent human behavior have been
meticulously gathered, stored & analysed.
you post a photo to Facebook, it keeps a record of all the data
that’s attached to it. That seems quite obvious but I didn’t suspect
it was so detailed. Have a look:Camera
Maker, Model, Orientation, Exposure, F-Stop, ISO Speed, Focal
Length, Latitude, Longitude & Upload IP Address
log-in & session data points
time you open Facebook, the time, location, IP address, browser
& device have been recorded. If you’re part of the1.4B
peoplethat use Facebook on a daily basis,
they have enough data points to determine your everyday life
patterns with great accuracy:home
and work address, daily commute, wake up & bed time, travel
duration & destination, etc.
Facebook has 232 examples of what I look like.
does it know? Well, every time you tag a photo, you’re adding to an
of knowledge and data. Everyday, billions of people are
telling an algorithm what a human face looks like, from different
angles, at different ages and in different light conditions.
result? Facebook allegedlysaidthat
its image recognition models could recognise human faceswith98%
accuracy& that it could identify a
person inone picture out of 800 millionin
less than five seconds.
you install Facebook’s app on your phone, you give it the right to
see your contact list. Once that’s done, Facebook keeps ALL your
contacts information forever.
no sneaky move here: the opt-in process on your phone is actually
pretty clear about that. But seeing the phone numbers, emails &
addresses of everyone you know (or knew) listed on Facebook is a bit
to know your advertiser
because he surely knows you.
main revenue source are ads served by their powerful targeting
engine using custom audiences built for advertisers.
21 advertisers got access to my Facebook information:
thing is, Facebook’s been purposely mysterious about what type of
information they share with third parties. Despitenumerous
requestsby users throughout the world,
their response is systematically:
do not give Facebook any users’ contact details. We only get such
details in hashed form and they are, in any event, deleted within 48
hours. We are therefore not able to confirm what contact information
an advertiser has for a particular user.
looking at Facebook Business platform provides some details aboutwhat
info is usedin custom audiences targeting:email,
phone number, first name, last name, city, state, country, date of
birth, age & gender.
Facebook has a lot of data about you & it shares it with a lot
of advertisers: but what should you care?
the world closer…”
used to think there was no real drawback in ceding a lot of personal
data to a 3rd party. After all, I get a free service that’s pleasant
to use & really helpful.
I realised that the harm potential really depends on 2 factors: the
intentions & means of action of the organisation that harvests
were Facebook gets really frightening: it’s hugely powerful &
its only objective is tomaximise the time spent &
interactions made with its platform(just
look at itsfinancial
be fooled by the “bring the world closer together” motto: if
Facebook’s here, it’s only to make money by selling ads. And to do
that, they must target — in the most precise manner — the highest
possible amount of eyeballs.
thing is, do we really care?
to get your data?
with Facebook in 2010 and followed by Google and Twitter in 2011 and
2012, big social networks began allowing their users to download a
backup file of everything they’ve ever posted.
download your Facebook backup, just follow the 3 steps describedhere.
Facebook will send you an email once your backup’s ready (it usually
takes less than 10 minutes).
a more holistic approach, check out PersonalData.io. It’s a web
service that‘s helping individuals get a hold on their personal
data. They’re doing an awesome job referencing data controllers
& providing request templates filled with the correct wording
& legal jargon. They thenpublish
the requests & answers onlineso that
everyone can appreciate corporate lawyers’ talent for complexifying
exchanges & dodging questions.
facts presented in this article are sourced from these reports &
If you which to learn more or make your own opinion, I think they’re
a good starting point.