First we need to define some of the ways that Facebook groups your data. You can imagine this as two buckets that your information gets put into.
First, there is what they refer to as “public information”. This is going to be any information that appears on the About page on your Facebook profile, including age, various interests, relationship status, email address, and phone number (if you have put them on your profile).
The second grouping is what they call “private information”, though they certainly don’t treat it as such. This is information that they take of yours, most likely, without you knowing, including location information (“the places you like to go”), facial recognition (if you use the camera), and your cookies information (basically what else you do online).
So now you know what they have and how they label the information, but what does Facebook really do with it all?
Any of that info considered “public” can be, “seen, accessed, reshared or downloaded through… search engines, APIs… by apps, websites and other services.” Basically anyone can access that stuff at any time.
What Facebook deems as the “private” data is where we believe the real privacy breach occurs. This information is taken and “shared” with vendors, researchers, and advertisers. They say, “We provide advertisers with reports about the kinds of people seeing their ads… but we don’t share information that personally identifies you.. unless you give us permission.” Unfortunately, you have to manually go into your settings and turn this off. Luckily, we have outlined how to do so in a previous blog post, titled “What Can You Do?”, which we strongly encourage you go check out if you haven’t already.
At the end of the day we understand that what Facebook is doing is slimy and deceitful. We are simply trying to make you more aware of how pervasive the issue is and provide you with whatever tools are available to stop it. Maybe take a look at your profile and see if you would want the information that you have put on there broadcast out to the world. If not, maybe make some changes and include less of your personal info on your profile!
Like this post if you found the information interesting, and check back here every week for more information about how you can take control of your data.