Want to know what Facebook knows about you? Download all your data from Facebook.
After hearing last week about the Facebook privacy breach in which 50 million users had their data used without their consent, it got me thinking about the data that Facebook has on me. Guess what? It’s easy to find out.
Download your data and you’ll receive a list of your Facebook friends, the pages and posts that you’ve liked, events you’ve been invited to and joined and for some Australian users with Android phones, a copy of their mobile phone calls and texts.
Click on Facebook settings and you’ll see an option to download a copy of your Facebook data.
Click on this and a screen will appear. Click on the green button ‘Download Archive’ and you’ll get prompted to re-enter your Facebook password.
Once entered, Facebook will send two emails.
The first email confirms that a request was made while the second includes a link to access the file when it’s ready.
You might have to wait for a while for the second email as it depends on the size of your file. Mine only took a few minutes and once received made for some interesting reading. It showed my friends (including the deleted ones), all the photos I had on my Facebook profile, my likes on other people’s posts and pages, the groups I belong to, the Facebook pages I admin and even all of my Facebook messages. It also listed all of the events I had joined and been invited to.
The Ads topics was even more interesting. From your clicks and likes, Facebook compiles a list of ad topics for you. This is how you get targeted for certain ads. As I scrolled through the list, my ad topics were pretty predictable with Family, Blog, Design and Photography listed. But then I noticed Hunting? Nope, I’m definitely not a hunter! Facebook must have got confused maybe with all the times I write Newcastle & Hunter. Equally funny was The Mummy (1999 film) is listed as one of my ad topics. No, once again, not correct.
Finding ‘hunting’ and ‘The Mummy’ listed under my interests prompted me to review and edit My Interests listed in the Ad Preferences section of settings. You can manually delete the categories that get listed automatically. It also shows you your Ad History and what Facebook ads you clicked on. It’s a lot of information and no wonder Facebook data is so valuable to advertisers and Russian hackers!
What was interesting to me was the amount of installed apps (31) that had access to my Facebook profile including TripAdvisor, Pinterest, Kidspot Australia and even Reading Eggs which I didn’t expect. It’s made me more cautious about the apps I grant access to in future. In response to the data breach, Facebook has announced stricter rules for app developers who try to collect personal information. It will reduce the amount of data given to an app when you sign in limiting it to name, profile and email address. In a new section in your News Feed, there will be a display of apps that you’ve used and an option to revoke their permissions.
Now I’m not advocating #DeleteFacebook and suggesting you should close down your Facebook account. Social media is a great tool to access information and maintain social connections. But it’s clear that there needs to be more regulatory oversight in the use of data and ensuring people’s privacy.
In order to protect your own privacy, I recommend checking your Facebook information about you and your family and deleting information, photos, messages and interests as required. Also, check your security settings to set a level of privacy you prefer.