My Facebook Data, Boring, Baffling, and a Bit Scary
If an online product is free, then you are what’s for sale.
With Facebook and other free social networking sites, everything you post or like or share or join becomes a data point that serves to identify your interests that can then be sold to marketers. It’s something we all agree to when we click the little checkbox next to the legalese that few of us bother to read.
With the various Facebook data breaches over the past year such as the one involving Cambridge Analytica, I wanted to see just what data Facebook has collected from me in the decade I’ve used the service. I recently downloaded everything they’ve got on me including such data as all my current friends, people who have requested to be friends, removed friends, people I have asked to be friends, messages, likes, photos, search history, and much, much more.
It’s easy to download your own data. Just go to Facebook Settings > Your Facebook Information > Download Your Information. Once you’ve made the request, you’ll get an initial email confirmation and then some time later (perhaps a few weeks or a month), you will get a zip file with everything they have on you.
I was amazed there was 840 MB of data delivered to me. Much of the large data files were videos and photos. But the sheer number of individual pieces of data collected over a decade such as my likes, comments, and whatnot is extensive indeed.
Most of the data was mundane like Facebook knows I am a fan of the Grateful Dead. Well, yeah. True. Other data they had on me was downright weird. I must have searched for “Allosaurus” at some point because that is a keyword that Facebook ads target me with.
You will learn I have changed the way I use Facebook based on my data and that Facebook ad targeting is not all that accurate.