To say that Facebook is a popular social media service certainly understates everything it really is. Facebook is a global company offering advertising and commerce products. The everyday user logs in to see their friends, family, and funny memes while rarely considering the information this company collects about them.
Facebook is no stranger to questionable privacy practices. In 2022, the company was the subject of a scandal known as the Cambridge Analytica affair; the company was also part of a massive data breach and even had to pay the FTC $5 billion for breaches of consumer privacy.
After the news broke, there was an increase in searches for how to delete a Facebook account and people looking for ways to have more control over their Facebook data and what the site knows about them. Luckily, the company has made it easy for users to find out more about their information, and we've explained how to do that below. You can also find out if you or your friends have been victims of the Cambridge Analytica scandal using this online tool.
Be warned, however, there really is a disturbing amount of information. Some people have even noticed that Facebook tracks all calls and texts made using their mobile, many without realizing it. If you want to take control of your privacy while continuing to use the platform, we'll teach you everything you need to know in this article.
How intrusive is Facebook?
There's a running joke that Facebook listens to your conversations outside of the app. Many users reported having had a conversation, and Facebook later showed an ad related to that conversation. The founder strongly disputes this rumor, but Facebook's tracking algorithms are so good they almost seem true.
So what information does Facebook collect and how does it use it?
Off-Facebook activity is how Facebook tracks your shopping and travel habits. According to Facebook, when you search for something online or even go to a physical store to make a purchase, that company shares your information with Facebook. Once Facebook receives this information, the company uses it to send more personalized ads to your News Feed.
Apps and web activity
This permission is especially useful for you, the user, as you can quickly log into most websites, apps, and even store your game progress in some cases.
Other information included in this category is as follows:
- Your contacts – To help find “people you may know”
- Networks and connections – Who and how you interact with others
- Transactions and Usage – How you use Facebook and its affiliates (WhatsApp, Instagram, etc.)
This includes everything from your location to your IP address and even your battery life. Once you have downloaded Facebook or logged into a web browser, Facebook has access to where you are and what type of device you are using.
To better help detect bots, Facebook can even track your mouse movements as you use the platform.
Any information you provide
Posts to interests, events and profile information are stored by Facebook. If you have listed your political or religious views on Facebook, the company tracks and stores that information.
How to see what data Facebook is tracking
There are many ways to see what information Facebook tracks and stores about you. Fortunately, the mobile app makes it very easy to see what's stored and, in some cases, how Facebook got the data. So let's start with the simplest method first.
Keep in mind that all of these instructions will appear by following the Three-line menu icon>Settings path on the mobile app.
How to see your off-Facebook activity
We'll start by showing you from which applications Facebook collects information about you. Open Settings on the Facebook app and follow these steps:
- Scroll down in Settings to Off-Facebook activity option under the Your Facebook information title.
- Press Manage your activity outside Facebook.
- A new page will appear where you can view each news source. Tap a for more.
- After tapping on any of the listed sources, you'll see which tools Facebook used to collect the data, how many interactions it received, and how the company uses that information.
If you think this is a little too invasive, you can delete all non-Facebook history from your account by clicking the button Clear story option shown in step 2 above. But keep in mind that it may affect some of your login details and game progress depending on the app.
You can also restrict the individual app from sharing your personal information by following these steps as well. Press the Disable future activity from… option to prevent an individual source from communicating with Facebook about your off-Facebook activity.
Access your Facebook information
Your “Facebook Information” is an umbrella term for various data the company has about you. Some of these are pretty standard things like your Facebook posts and your friends. Other elements of this section are a bit more intriguing. Let's take a look:
- Go to your Facebook account settings. Then press Access your information under Your Facebook Information.
- Then you will see a page with some categories. You can click on any of these links to access links to information stored about you. For our example, we'll press Recorded information.
- Scroll down the list of options to learn more.
Although it takes some time to go through each category and sub-category, Facebook really makes it easy to see what the company collects and how. But there are also other methods.
Download your Facebook information:
Another option, a longer term option, is to download all of your Facebook information to a device of your choice. So if you still want to see everything Facebook knows about you with just a few clicks and a bit of patience, here's how:
Click the down arrow on your Facebook account and head to Settings and Privacy, then Settings.
On the left side, click Your Facebook Information.
Click View next to Download your information.
On the next page, click Create File.
Click Available Copies, then click Download Again.
You will be prompted to enter your password.
The file comes in the form of a .zip, so make sure you have something capable of unzipping them; OS X and Windows 10 handle this without the need for additional software.
You can now browse a set of information stores similar to web pages. For example, index.htm is an archived version of your Facebook profile, including past relationships, jobs, and educational institutions. You can see every photo you uploaded with all the EXIF data that Facebook has, i.e. where and when it was taken and even where it was uploaded. You can even see everyone you've never been friends with – sorry, guys.
In fact, Facebook kept track of every event you attended, videos uploaded, locations and devices you logged in from, messages you sent, images it compiles for facial recognition. and even advertising topics that you prefer. being served.
Download Facebook data from mobile device
It may be easier to download your data from Facebook to a mobile device. To do so, follow these steps:
Open the Facebook app and tap the three horizontal lines to access Parameters. (The three lines may be in the upper left or right corner depending on your operating system).
Press on 'Download your Facebook information' located under the Your Facebook information section.
Uncheck any information you do not wish to download and make your date and file type selections. Faucet 'Create a file' when you are ready to download.
How to Control What Facebook Knows About You
If you're concerned about what information Facebook has about you, you can completely close your account (but beware, your photos, friends, and even logins will be lost). Facebook states that if a user closes their account, all information collected from that account is deleted.
The exception to this is that Facebook will still have some of your information, thanks to your friends and connections.
Another way to control what Facebook collects from you is to monitor your activity on the site. As stated above, Facebook will keep track of anything you post or put on your profile, any groups that join, or even events that you attend.
You can control how advertisers use your data by visiting your account settings and selecting " Ad settings.' You can toggle the available options from 'Allow' at 'Not allowed. '
This will likely mean you'll receive random ads that don't apply to you, but if you're privacy-conscious, doing these things is a good start to regaining control of your personal information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Protecting your privacy is of utmost importance. In case we haven't covered everything you want to know about Facebook's activities, we have the answers to many of your questions.
What does Facebook do with the data it tracks?
As you can see, Facebook keeps track of a lot of personal data and information. The majority of this information is used for marketing purposes. Facebook collects information about what you buy, what your friends buy, groups you join (to see your interests) and then shows you ads the company thinks you might like.
Facebook also uses the information they collect to add features and functions to the platform that could make the user's experience even better. Each time Facebook makes a new update and the interface changes, it results from data collected on how users interact with the app or website.
Facebook also collects data about the things you or your friends post. For example, the company uses facial recognition to better track your photos and videos. This is one of the reasons why you may see tagging suggestions when you upload a photo. Like many other features on Facebook, you can disable this by going to the Settings>Face Recognition selections and pressing the option to deactivate this option.
Is there a list of everything Facebook collects from its users?