Why Facebook isn't telling you everything it knows about you

Narjas Zatat@Narjas_Zatat
Sunday 01 January 2017 14:30
(Picture: Chandan Khanna/Getty)

Since April, Facebook is suffering what they reportedly refer to as ‘context collapse’, with users sharing less personal information on the website.

Despite that, the information you have already made available may make you the recipient of targeted advertising.

Since September ProPublica collected over 52,000 unique attributes Facebook uses to classify its customers, by using data about categories of interest provided by users.

Facebook gathers information about its users from a variety of sources – openly available and collected by third parties.

What isn’t well known, however, is that commercial data brokers compile records about the way Facebook users behave in the real world – including favourite restaurants, frequent places visited, and interests.

Every time someone adds a movie they like, or reacts to a post with one of the six options available, they are giving data brokers more information about themselves.

Based on this information, data brokers can tailor ads to individuals in a much more accurate way - but the individual does not have access to the dossier about them.

Steve Satterfield, a Facebook manager of privacy and public policy told ProPublica:

Our approach to controls for third-party categories is somewhat different than our approach for Facebook-specific categories.

This is because the data providers we work with generally make their categories available across many different ad platforms, not just on Facebook.

Theoretically, contacting individual data brokers is the only way to prevent your information from being available to Facebook.

There’s even a page in Facebook’s help centre listing a number of data brokers that sell personal data to the social media giant.

However, the reality is much more complex: many data brokers require a lengthy process to opt out – including providing identification.

Even then, you’re not guaranteed to be removed, and with almost 100 identified brokers (though there may well be more), your efforts could be exhaustive and, ultimately unsuccessful.

Is there a way to prevent the selling on of your information?

The best way to prevent your information from being sold to Facebook, is to limit the information you share.

Alternatively, do not use Facebook.

HT ProPublica

More: Five seriously useful Facebook settings you probably aren't using

More: The answer to the question everyone's wondering about Facebook