Breaking: Facebook Knows More About You Than Your Cousin Does.
Were you ever curious just how much information Facebook was collecting about you? Well, if you have 10 minutes free, I can walk you through how to obtain and assess that information. Or if you are an ignorance is bliss kind of person, and you don’t really want to know, then perhaps this visual of all the information that Facbook collects will be suffice (found at: https://www.facebook.com/help/405183566203254/).
Ok, now that you need to know what Facebook knows.
Step: 1 – Acceptance.
We all “accepted” the EULA (End User License Agreement) and now we must accept the consequences. Ouch, that was hard to write, and is even harder to say, since it is an inordinate amount of BS. Who has time to read thousands of lines of legal jargon, let own decipher and decode what it could mean. We have been beaten into submission and we are getting beat up on both sides of the deal. For more on the EULA soapbox, watch this. Thank me later.
Step: 2 – Hope.
Are you hoping that Facebook hasn’t captured everything that you have done on their platform? Sorry, it is much worse than you could have imagined. The Facebook database not only has retained the name and number of your x girl or boyfriend, it has archived conversations, phone numbers of your contacts (if you approved the messenger to sync with contacts, and it has detailed records of every login, IP address, event or link that you clicked. I hope that they are good stewards of our information… I may have let a political comment or two fly off into cyberspace after having one too many martinis. Whoops.
Step: 3 – Trust.
In Corporations we trust. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. If we can learn anything from the last couple years it is that big corporations ARE NOT steadfast protectors of our data, and furthermore that they can continue business as usual with little fear of impunity. Equifax and Facebook are only a few of the larger stories where 143 million and 50 million American users’ data was compromised. In the case of the former, we can trust that PII (personally identifiable information) is being sold on the dark web to people trying to steal identities. As for the latter, the leaked data in Facebook had a far more unusual and nefarious outcome; the social media platform was weaponized politically by a new form of advertising called psychographic targeting (full The Guardian article here).
Step: 4 – Truth.
Are you ready? Here is how you can download the entire archive of your digital Facebook life:
- Log into your Facebook account and select the drop-down error from top navigation.
- Find “settings” tab at the bottom of the drop-down menu.
- At the bottom of window under “Manage Account,” select Download a copy of your data.
- It will take about 10 minutes to generate the archive. Then Facebook will notify you that the package is ready. Once download and unzipped, you will see something like this:
I encourage you to play around and see what all has been collected. Each one of those .htm links opens up a LONG list of all kinds “events” registered within the Facebook platform. My particular favorite is the security list. Enjoy!
Step: 5 – Reckoning.
The saying goes that if something is free, YOU are the product. Big Data is the new gold, and companies leveraging enormous stockpiles of user information are seeing great returns for very little cost. Will decentralized platforms like STEEMIT change the social media landscape in the future and instead reward users over corporate overlords? Or will business proceed and people continue to roll over and take it? Time will tell. While regulation may be a slap on the wrist to Zuckerberg and his corporate cronies, the best way to usher on change is hit’em in the pocketbook. Take a look for yourself and see if and how much you want to continue donating content to their social experiment.