Facebook is able to collect personal information about us in far more ways than we expect, which means they know more than we realize. Facebook primarily gathers its data on users from three sources:
- The Facebook website itself and your account activity
- Apps that you’ve logged onto with your account
- Plugins on third-party websites
Each of these gives Facebook different kinds of information about us. Although the social media platform doesn’t use the information for anything except for advertising right now, it’s still good to know just exactly what information Facebook has.
Facebook gathers information from your account
This sounds self-explanatory but consider what kind of information you have given for your account! When you create a Facebook account, you need to enter your name, phone number, date of birth, and gender. But this is only a start. The social media giant recommends that you enter all sorts of additional information to help people get to know you. This includes your hometown, your educational and work histories, and relationship status. It even gives you the option to submit what kinds of music and television you enjoy! If you are comfortable sharing this with the Internet and Facebook, then this isn’t an issue. However, know that once you put this information on your account, They will keep this information for their own records even if you delete it from your profile publicly.
Facebook gathers information from apps using your account credentials
When you use a new app or website, typically you need to create new login credentials. But in recent years, these apps and websites have begun to offer alternate logins to streamline the login process: instead of creating individual accounts, you can “sign in with Google” or “sign in with Facebook.” If you have ever clicked “Sign in with Facebook” and used your login credentials to join a new app or website, they can track your activity with that app and keep it in their own database. This is because your account with these apps is linked to your Facebook account. Most people opt for the convenience of a one-click sign-in without considering what it really means. These quick sign-ins gives Facebook even more information about you, your preferences, and your Internet habits.
Facebook gathers information via third-party websites and Facebook-owned groups
Have you ever reached the end of an article online and seen the option to give it a “thumbs up” or leave a comment? These, too, are from Facebook. When you like an article, that information goes straight to Facebook. It allows them to better understand the kinds of things you like, agree with, and want to hear more about. This information is not as explicit as offering up your spouse’s name to Facebook on your profile, but it still gives them greater insight as to who you are.
Furthermore, Facebook has grown from a social media app to a powerful parent company. Facebook is now the owner of Instagram and WhatsApp. Any information you put into these accounts will also go directly back to Facebook.
Facebook also accesses information through Messenger, which is Facebook’s messaging app. The conversations you have through that app can be read, monitored, and recorded by Facebook. If you give Facebook access to your contacts through Messenger, they can also go through your phone records.
What if you don’t have a Facebook account?
Even if you don’t have a Facebook account, Facebook knows about you. Any information another user uploads to Facebook – such as their contacts – is stored for future use. If you have friends that use Facebook, chances are that Facebook has at least some of your basic information.
Facebook’s use of your information
Right now, the good news is that Facebook only uses your information for advertising purposes. The more they know about you, the more they can tailor your ad content, making the advertisements more effective overall. However, it’s a good idea to be aware of any of your information that’s present on the Internet, whether it’s on Facebook or another site and set your Facebook privacy settings accordingly.