What Does Facebook Know About You?
Facebook has gathered a lot of information about its users. From a person’s posts, to their like history, to the advertisers they engage with, the world’s most popular social network knows more about the average user than most of their family members do. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal–where third-party users had free reign of Facebook user information–Facebook vowed to offer more transparency, so they now allow users to view the information they have collected about them.
Here’s how to view this information on a computer, and a mobile app respectively. It is a pretty straightforward process.
On a desktop or laptop:
- Log in to your Facebook account.
- If you are on a desktop or laptop, click the down arrow on the top right and go to Settings.
- On the left, click Your Facebook Information.
- Facebook will present you with five options. Look for Download Your Information.
- Click View, Facebook will give you a screen where you can choose the date range and format of the data. Since in this case, we want to download everything, we’re going to set the Date Range to All of my data and set Media Quality to High. This means we’ll get a higher quality version of all of our photos and videos in the download.
- Click Create File and Facebook will start building the download. This can take a while, but Facebook will give you a notification when your data is ready for download.
- Once Facebook gives you the notification, click it and Download your data.
From the Facebook mobile app:
- Tap the 3-bar hamburger icon in the top right of the app.
- Scroll down and tap Settings & Privacy, and then tap Settings.
- Tap Download Your Information.
- Leave all of the options checked, and scroll down. Ensure the Date Range is set to All of my data and that Media Quality is set to High.
- Tap Create File and Facebook will give you a notification when the data is ready for download.
After you create your file, it takes about an hour before you are given a notification. If you’ve been with the social media site a long time, or if you are a heavy user, it may take longer. Most users that have been using Facebook for a while will end up with GBs worth of information.
Now that you have access to your report, click on Your Facebook Information:
Access Your Information – Facebook itemizes all of your information with Posts, Photos, and Location all available to be viewed. This still doesn’t tell you what Facebook knows about you outside of Facebook.
Activity Log – This page is basically a timeline recap, which is great if you are looking to relive any old moments.
Deactivation and Deletion – Facebook users looking for a way out have complained that deleting their account is extremely difficult. Today, it’s not so difficult.
What Does Facebook Know About You?
Once your file is viewable, you will be shocked at just how much information they know about you. They have the basic information, but beyond that they track and log your location, which can be disconcerting. You can pull up a date and learn just what you did that day. You may have forgotten, but Facebook hasn’t.
Then there are the Ads. Under this section you will be confronted with the laundry list of advertisers who have uploaded a contact list with your information. These advertisers already had your information, and they use Facebook’s advertising space to target you.
What To Make of This Information
You probably had a notion that Facebook had a bunch of your information, but how much information outside of your general profile makes you nervous when they are accused of major data breaches. What’s scarier is that the service is used by over a quarter of the world’s population.
This is only the tip of the iceberg of the information we will share about this social media giant. Check back for part two of our three-part blog series about Facebook privacy.