Anaxagoras wrote:I Downloaded the Information That Facebook Has on Me. Yikes.
When I downloaded a copy of my Facebook data last week, I didn’t expect to see much. My profile is sparse, I rarely post anything on the site, and I seldom click on ads. (I’m what some call a Facebook “lurker.”)
But when I opened my file, it was like opening Pandora’s box.
With a few clicks, I learned that about 500 advertisers — many that I had never heard of, like Bad Dad, a motorcycle parts store, and Space Jesus, an electronica band — had my contact information, which could include my email address, phone number and full name. Facebook also had my entire phone book, including the number to ring my apartment buzzer. The social network had even kept a permanent record of the roughly 100 people I had deleted from my friends list over the last 14 years, including my exes.
There was so much that Facebook knew about me — more than I wanted to know. But after looking at the totality of what the Silicon Valley company had obtained about yours truly, I decided to try to better understand how and why my data was collected and stored. I also sought to find out how much of my data could be removed.
How Facebook collects and treats personal information was central this week when Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, answered questions in Congress about data privacy and his responsibilities to users. During his testimony, Mr. Zuckerberg repeatedly said Facebook has a tool for downloading your data that “allows people to see and take out all the information they’ve put into Facebook.”
But that’s an overstatement. Most basic information, like my birthday, could not be deleted. More important, the pieces of data that I found objectionable, like the record of people I had unfriended, could not be removed from Facebook, either.
This made me curious so I downloaded my data too. What I find truly scary isn't the stuff I actually told them, or even the stuff that can be easily surmised (i.e. I see that I am targetted for D&D ads. The fact that I am part of 5 or 6 D&D related groups makes it a no brainer that such interests me). What I find truly scary is the stuff that falls into neither of those two categories but that their algorithms figured out about me anyway. I.e I am NOT part of any groups for the TV show Orphan Black
nor have I mentioned it much on FB. Yet it has me pegged as a fan.
Some things are wrong. It has me pegged as someone who like First Person Shooter Games and I absolutely despise those. And as a huge fan of Johnny Cash, apparently, not sure why. I think he's okay and there are a couple of his songs I like but he shows up in my "ad topics" list 4 or 5 times. I don't think I ever input my address, or if I did I did it at my old house when I first started FB in 2008 or so. Yet they have a correct and current address for me. But yet, they also have a phone number for me that is at least 7 years out of date. Not so sure I want to correct their error, all things considered.
And I agree with the article's author, that you have no idea who is accessing your data and I am not sure I like that. Also, I am not sure WHY some of these people have accessed my data. They list "Advertisers who uploaded a contact list with your info". Some make sense Amazon, for instance, or any of several game companies. But "Oklahoman's for Energy Options?" WTF, I am not from Oklahoma, why do they need my info? Or the California Republican Pary. I am neither Republican nor (more to the point in this case) from California. What the hell does the "New England Council of Carptenters" want with the info of a computer programmer from Nevada?
Interesting stuff. If anyone has FB, I recommend they do the download.