What Facebook knows about you

I’ve written several times before about the real dangers (in terms of threats to privacy and personal security) of using Facebook.  Now an in-depth analysis by Vicki Boykis reveals just how much Facebook knows about you – and how much information about you it’s vacuuming up every time you use it.

In 2014, Facebook engineers wrote that they have about 600 terabytes of data coming in on a daily basis.

For perspective, the size of War and Peace, the text is 3.1 megabytes. The 1966 Soviet movie version of War and Peace the movie is 7 hours long, or 8 gigabytes in size.

So people are uploading the equivalent of 193 million copies of War and Peace books, or 75,000 copies of War and Peace movies, every single day.

Facebook’s Data Policy outlines what it collects and what it does with that data. However, like most companies, it leaves out the actual points that tell customers what exactly is happening.

. . .

Facebook data collection potentially begins before you press “POST”. As you are crafting your message, Facebook collects your keystrokes.

Facebook has previously used to use this data to study self-censorship.

The researchers write,

We report results from an exploratory analysis examining “last-minute” self-censorship, or content that is filtered after being written, on Facebook. We collected data from 3.9 million users over 17 days and associate self-censorship behavior with features describing users, their social graph, and the interactions between them.

Meaning, that if you posted something like, “I just HATE my boss. He drives me NUTS,” and at the last minute demurred and wrote something like, “Man, work is crazy right now,” Facebook still knows what you typed before you hit delete.

Here are the data points they used to conduct their study (click the image for a larger view):

Something of interest here is: deleted posts, deleted comments, and deleted checkins. Just like there’s no guarantee that things you didn’t write won’t be stored, there’s no guarantee that, if you delete data, the data is actually deleted.

There’s much more at the link.

I found Ms. Boykis’ article truly creepy.  In Facebook’s world, there is no privacy left.  Given the platform’s image recognition technology, the amount of information they gather about you and/or infer from other users, and other research, there’s virtually no aspect of your life of which the company is unaware.  Even if you aren’t a user of Facebook, like myself, the odds are pretty good that they’ve picked up enough information about you from your friends and associates, and from other data sources, that the company can profile you pretty accurately.

Some may shrug their shoulders at the prospect.  I regard it as evil;  but then, I was raised in an age where one’s personal privacy was respected and valued.  I suppose I’m a dinosaur in that respect . . . but I’m not about to change – and I’m not about to join Facebook!  What’s more, I strongly advise anyone who’s already a Facebook user to get off that social medium as soon as possible, and take extreme care never to join another one like it.



  1. I got fed up with FB a couple weeks ago. Too much crap going on from some of my circles of friends. Decided to go on a hiatus, and have been considering just staying away period.
    One of my issues is that the family and friend connections has been useful in connecting with wide spread relations that typically don't communicate well to begin with. It's been nice sharing pictures of family members, yet there's times I think about how much I am sharing.
    Mind you I have been trying to cut down on it. Not working out to well though.

  2. FB is creepy and bad. I get it. However, I will tell you this. Hurricane Harvey and what has happened was a social media storm. Meaning this. Need to know what roads are open? Social media. Want to know what stores are open. Which ones have Water, batteries, whatever you are looking for? Social media. ( meaning mainly FB though others were used as well). Local news tried hard. Yet, they just couldn't put out IMPORTANT local news as well as what you could get from social media. You could learn about the storm, about shelters, about food, about flood relief and sadly about watching out for looters….all from Social Media ! ! You could do so far better than from any other source that I was aware of. Also, of course, routine alerts for pets found/lost over social media. Even pleas for help ( As in I have cell coverage and nothing else. My parents/aunt/grandmother is trapped by rising flood waters and local officials haven't made it there. Does ANYONE Have a boat ! ). All real stuff. All things that happened over and over.
    So, no it wasn't perfect. Some false rumors though it turned out….not as many as one might think. Yes…IM sure FB mined an ass load of information and I HATE them for it. Still…..if you have something as effective and NOT FB….I'm listening. Otherwise…FB in particular was invaluable !I simply can not stress enough how much help people got from FB. Helpful information and communication I wasn't getting from anywhere else. News teams could give information writ large. Like….N Side of town is flooded. Ok, But I want to know if street X is flooded near location Y because I need to go that way or I need to get someone out of there. News crews could tell me Grocery stores were being restocked. FB could tell me store A had just got a truck load of ( whatever) and was open for cash sales.

  3. I've never Fecesbooked so I wouldn't know. I think ya gotta take that medium for what it is: a great place to post pics of the kids and pets, make harmless small talk – and leave it at that.

  4. Not on Fakebook any longer – haven't been for quite some time; they kept annoying me with wanting additional "contact/verification info" and such, and the quantity of invasive spamming and lefty-loonie crap became too much. Most of the info/data they have in their data banks/memories/trackers on me is faked, in vital parts or in whole, so…no more invasive…

    Bye – bye…

    No real loss – there's much better means of "social communication" anyway.

  5. Related to being tracked, and consequences thereof:

    Equifax, which supplies credit information and other information services, said Thursday that a cybersecurity incident discovered on July 29 could have potentially affected 143 million consumers in the U.S.

    "The leaked data includes names, birth dates, social security numbers, addresses and potentially drivers licenses," reports CNBC. "209,000 U.S. credit card numbers were also obtained, in addition to 'certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers."

    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Richard F. Smith said in a statement: "This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes. We pride ourselves on being a leader in managing and protecting data, and we are conducting a thorough review of our overall security operations. We also are focused on consumer protection and have developed a comprehensive portfolio of services to support all U.S. consumers, regardless of whether they were impacted by this incident." Equifax is now alerting customers whose information was included in the breach via mail, and is working with state and federal authorities.

    UPDATE (9/7/17): According to Bloomberg, "three Equifax senior executives sold shares worth almost $1.8 million" in the days after the company discovered the security breach. Regulatory filings show that three days after the breach was discovered on July 29th, Chief Financial Officer John Gamble sold shares worth $946,374 and Joseph Loughran, president of U.S. information solutions, exercised options to dispose of stock worth $584,099." Meanwhile, "Rodolfo Ploder, president of workforce solutions, sold $250,458 of stock on Aug. 2."


  6. Couldn't agree more Peter, although being somewhat of a curmudgeonly type I regard all "social" media (and the broader, used-to-be-news media) with equal disdain.

    For reference, that 7 hour War and Peace movie would have been low resolution at 8Gb. A typical Hollywood sausage factory movie blue ray full hd rip is around 10-12Gb for 90-120 minutes.

    Or so I've heard.

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