What Data Does Facebook Have on You?
And What You Should Do About It
I’m not normal.
For years, people have been telling me this.
But, when it comes to data that businesses have on me, I figure the more the merrier. Take Facebook for example; the more Facebook knows about me, the more relevant the ads are going to be that it serves to me. And, since I have to view ads to be on Facebook (its free after all), why not receive advertisements that are of interest to me? Stub Hub or Stayfree? I’m a bit more interested in those Yankees tickets.
What Does Facebook Know About You?
I’ll preface this by answering the question: A LOT!
Here’s how you can find out how much Facebook knows about you. Hint — (It’s a lot more than when I posted this article in 2014)
- On a desktop computer, click on the upside down triangle in the upper right.
- Click on “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”
- Click on the green bar that says “Download archive.”
- You need to then enter your Facebook password to verify it’s you. Then click “Submit.”
- Wait for Facebook to send you a zip file to your email that you use for Facebook access.
Mine arrived in 23 minutes in a compacted zip file of 219 MB. It was very easy to open and navigate. Get a nice glass of your favorite beverage. It’s going to take a while to get through all this data.
The most interesting thing to me was the Ads Topics. It showed the ads that had been served to me and had another section for the advertisements that I clicked on. It also gave me a list of my Advertisers Contact List. This is the list of all of the advertisers that have me on its targeted Facebook list. Pretty cool. Some products that I like such as Untuck It, SAKS Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, The North Face, and coolest of all — I’m on the advertising list for The Doobie Brothers!
The data will also give you all of the Installed Apps where I use Facebook as my convenient log in. Some I use often such as All Trails and Uber. Others were likely one night stands. But, there’s the biggest tip:
IF YOU WANT TO BLOCK FACEBOOK FROM FINDING SO MUCH ABOUT YOU, DON’T USE THE FACEBOOK LOG IN OPTION. USE YOUR EMAIL LOG IN INSTEAD. DELETE THOSE APPS YOU DON’T WANT ANY MORE.
How to Delete Facebook Apps
- On a desktop computer, click on the upside down triangle at the top of your News Feed.
- Click “Settings.”
- On the left side, click “Apps and Websites.”
- You will then see all of the apps where you have used Facebook access. Click on the ones you no longer want and then click “Remove.” You can delete multiple apps in the same effort.
There’s also some other startling information there. Did you know that there’s a list of all of your contacts and their phone numbers? That’s probably something you don’t even have! This goes along with your complete list of friends. It’s cool to find out who your first friend was and those friends you removed because their political beliefs didn’t agree with yours.
But, it doesn’t stop there. Facebook has kept track of all of your log ins. You can find the IP addresses of where you’ve logged in to your Facebook account. Don’t want your wife to know about that side “business trip” to Vegas? Sorry, it’s all over your data. You can also find all the restaurants, airports, and yes that gentlemen’s club in Vegas where you’ve Checked In.
There’s also some other things that you likely suspected like the history of your timeline posts plus all the photos and videos you’ve posted. They’ve also kept track of all your Facebook Messenger messages for you. Wasn’t that nice of them?
And, probably most important, Facebook has kept a log of your Pokes.
Bob Bentz is president of Purplegator and the author of Relevance Raises Response: How to Engage and Acquire with Mobile Marketing (2016). Until now, he has not keep track of his Facebook Pokes.