I Downloaded the Information That Facebook Has on Me. Yikes.

from NYTs

When I downloaded a copy of my Facebook data last week, I didn’t expect to see much. My profile is sparse, I rarely post anything on the site, and I seldom click on ads. (I’m what some call a Facebook “lurker.”)

But when I opened my file, it was like opening Pandora’s box.

With a few clicks, I learned that about 500 advertisers — many that I had never heard of, like Bad Dad, a motorcycle parts store, and Space Jesus, an electronica band — had my contact information, which could include my email address, phone number and full name. Facebook also had my entire phone book, including the number to ring my apartment buzzer. The social network had even kept a permanent record of the roughly 100 people I had deleted from my friends list over the last 14 years, including my exes.

There was so much that Facebook knew about me — more than I wanted to know. But after looking at the totality of what the Silicon Valley company had obtained about yours truly, I decided to try to better understand how and why my data was collected and stored. I also sought to find out how much of my data could be removed.

How Facebook collects and treats personal information was central this week when Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, answered questions in Congress about data privacy and his responsibilities to users. During his testimony, Mr. Zuckerberg repeatedly said Facebook has a tool for downloading your data that “allows people to see and take out all the information they’ve put into Facebook.” (Those who want to download their own Facebook data can use this link.)

But that’s an overstatement. Most basic information, like my birthday, could not be deleted. More important, the pieces of data that I found objectionable, like the record of people I had unfriended, could not be removed from Facebook, either.

“They don’t delete anything, and that’s a general policy,” said Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of DuckDuckGo, which offers internet privacy tools. He added that data was kept around to eventually help brands serve targeted ads.

More here.

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20 Responses to I Downloaded the Information That Facebook Has on Me. Yikes.

  1. Andrew Kuttin April 14, 2018 at 10:40 pm #

    It seems at times like the internet has become nothing but the world’s largest advertising platform. Targeted advertising relies on access to the personal data of large groups of people in order to be truly efficient. Therefore, it is no surprise that advertisers are willing to pay any amount necessary to obtain as much data as possible. Even less surprising, those who hold that data are happy to sell it off. Although none of this is new information, it has come into the public eye with more discussion than ever before as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook allowed an unauthorized third party to harvest the data of an estimated 87 million users. This begs the question, what kind of information about me is being stored and possibly stolen? Or even worse, consensually sold.
    This is exactly what Brian Chen set off to answer when he downloaded the information that Facebook kept on him. For the most part, the information stored seemed relatively obvious to me. Even some of the pieces of information that Chen was shocked or angered by seemed relatively run of the mill. For instance, his iPhone address book. This is one of the few truly optional pieces of information that Facebook requests. When you download messenger the app asks you if you would like to sync your contacts. I personally opted to and weeks down the road, I received notifications when my contacts joined the platform or messenger. I would not be surprised to find that Facebook kept my contacts because it uses them for the service it explicitly told me it would. What concerned me was not the information kept on Chen, but more the frequency that Facebook shared it with. Chen claimed that he was not an avid Facebook user, yet his data had still been shared with 500 advertisers. I am alarmed by the information stored by platforms like Facebook because of this factor. I cannot be assured that my data is truly being kept private.
    As Chen later points out, Facebook is not even necessarily the platform we should be most worried about. The file that Google had collected on him was about 12.5 times larger than what Facebook had compiled. Google is just as guilty as Facebook when it comes to allowing hyper targeted advertisements and if they enable privacy policies similar to Facebooks we could have a data catastrophe worse than ever imagined.
    In addition to everything I have mentioned to this point, there was one more intriguing issue that came up for me while reading this article. That is, the idea that I may have a lower standard for privacy due to my experience with social media and the internet as a whole. I and others in my generation are part of the first wave of children to grow up with modern technology and we have been using the internet for almost our entire lives. Social media platforms like Facebook have been used by my peers and I since our middle school years and even before. It is possible that because I have seen so much information being shared and collected, that I have adjusted to expecting that information not to be kept private. There is definitely something concerning about a platform hold a list of the people you no longer speak to, or selling your name and email address to 500 different companies, but to me at first glance it all seemed relatively normal.

  2. Timothy Guerrero April 16, 2018 at 10:47 am #

    Facebook has been in the business of surveillance and abusing billions of users data for years now, so I assume the reason this issue being at the forefront of American politics is the reasoning as to why public outcry is finally shedding light on their manipulative tactics. The thing is, we subject ourselves to this through Facebook’s amazing simplicity. The information they ask or require you is of utmost basic norms – it’s info needed to do something as simple as sign up for an email account or gaming platform. We, the general audience and population, would never assume that us putting in our home address line will result in Facebook knowing the passkey to get into my house. To add insult to injury, it would be safe to assume that the general population will not be educated at how extensive Facebook uses your data – it’s a topic an individual has to seek to learn, as Facebook will never openly admit they know that much about you. For instance, yesterday I purchased a subscription to the Dollar Shave Club without even using Facebook’s platform, and weeks ago I purchased tickets for all first-round games of the Devils’ Stanley Cup Playoff games. Can you take a guess as to what advertisements I’m being completely bombarded with? And to make matters worse, Congress absolutely embarrassed not only themselves but the American electorate when they drilled Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. We must take action and regulate data usage on the internet, as failure to do so will result in a continued mess for generations to coe.

  3. Mark Marino April 17, 2018 at 12:34 pm #

    Facebook has been under scrutiny from many sources not only in the United States, but throughout the world. Their newest and familiar issue is data privacy. It was found that Facebook sold to third party buyers who then took people’s data to influence them in the 2016 presidential election. The mere fact Facebook had an influence in a political election forces them to face questioning from Congress. With this newest scandal, Facebook is slowly becoming more willing to reveal the information they have on everybody. This is the newest wave of technology companies becoming more transparent. This has not been done easily, and it seems as though it has come at the detriment of Facebook.
    Facebook has been the scapegoat of data reveal of their users. Other social media platforms do the same thing it’s just people go after Facebook because they are the social media platform everybody knows of. The sale of data by Facebook has been known for over a decade. Each time, they have apologized, paid a few fines, and has gone back to what they have been doing. This time though, Zuckerberg is facing FTC fines for breaching an agreement made in 2011 stating that Facebook would not reveal data and basically a promise to pay fines if they have done so. Once Zuckerberg is done testifying in front of Congress, the FTC can begin their investigation and determine if Facebook has violated their agreement in 2011. If there is a breach, Facebook will have to pay billions in fines to the FTC. Although this is not a substantial amount or hit to their market cap, the principle and precedent it will set for other technology companies is worth so much more.
    With their new initiative of becoming more transparent with their users, they offer a feature which allows you to see what data has been collected. If this is their version of an apology, I am not buying it. After they have mined and collected our data, they want us to see what they have? That is not right. The only way to fix this issue is to implement new laws that will protect social media users. With a Congress that is old and uneducated on this industry, that will be a huge task.

  4. Nicholas DiBari April 18, 2018 at 10:36 am #

    This article, although I do not have a Facebook account, was really eye opening as to how frightening the data leak situation really is. While I always knew, subconsciously, that social media keeps ridiculous amounts of information on us on file, I never would have understood, frankly, how much info there is. There are things that I knew (and seemingly the author knew) would be there: name, birthday, etc. This being said, that becomes alarming when this information cannot be deleted, even when other information can. This aside, the other data Facebook has on us is equally worrisome. The social media giant knows, as the author remarks, his location down to his apartment number. Furthermore, Facebook does not have the very human issue of forgetfulness: nothing escapes Facebook’s omnipresent memory. All of this aggregated data can go directly to advertisers or, worse yet, leaked to whoever wants it. Can you imagine the implications of an individual’s name, phone number, and apartment number being leaked out to whomever wants it? The results could be absolutely catastrophic. I would have thought threats would have been more isolated to the digital realm such as identity threat (this is not to say that identity threat is not serious; it clearly is). Given this sort of data leakage, however, it is clear that the issue could transcend the digital world and there could be potential physical consequences. Even further more frightening, it does not matter at all how much of a user of Facebook that you are. Regardless of the frequency with which you use the social media platform. Facebook will aggregate large sums of information, some grounded in usage and some grounded in assumptions based on usage, on all of its users with no exception. To top all of this off, Facebook’s user monitoring is on a strict opt-out basis where the ability to opt-out is well hidden in the security and privacy settings. This is very controversial as, not only is the aggregation and consequent leaking of your data an issue, there is hardly a way that it can be avoided, save for not using Facebook.

  5. Gabrielle Pietanza April 18, 2018 at 3:08 pm #

    In the modern world we live in, individuals are taught at a very young age that once something is posted on the internet it cannot be removed. This data event if deleted from the initial platform of which it was posted, can and is collected and sorted by large corporations which purchase rights to this data. Time and time again throughout this course we have discussed how if you do not purchase a service you are not the customer. Instead in cases such as these large advertising firms and small companies many have never heard purchase the opportunity to collect and analyze the data a respective site collects. Many platforms such as Facebook have incorporated face recognition within their application which allows an individual to be tagged and the post to be under their profile without them actually being mentioned in or posting the post.

    As an individual that has never actually posted anything but profile pictures to Facebook I tend to find myself amazed as to how complete a profile I have. Other individuals have the ability to in a sense post for you and all the data you are mentioned in goes to completing a profile this company is then able to sell to advertisers. The data that we see as consumers it is important to mention, is not even a glimpse of the complete profile that is created. Their general policy as a company is to not officially delete anything. With that said all information ever posted, images, friends, individuals unfriended, and interests are all things these companies are able to track and use in order to approach a certain type of potential customer in a certain way.

    Once information is posted to this platform they own it and thus are able to distribute it in any way they please. I believe that Facebook and other companies like it must begin becoming more transparent with their users. The complicated privacy settings are not something that a consumer should struggle with so much as we as consumers should be given the right to choose what personal information of theirs is private and that which is public. Just because we post something to a platform should not lead to that company gaining ownership of that information. The only way for these issues to be solved is by reevaluating the laws surrounding internet and media privacy.

  6. Coby Dunn April 18, 2018 at 9:12 pm #

    Our data has always been available to companies, analytic sites, and pretty much anyone that pays for it. The problem now, is that we are finally realizing that companies have been mining our data ever since we first made a facebook account when we were twelve years old. And as we all know, it was facebook that has made data privacy a hot topic. With that being said, the average person expects some of their information to be on the internet. Name, age, gender, and pretty anything that can be viewed as public is what everyone expects to have on the internet. What the normal person does not know however, is that companies like facebook have your name, number, your friends numbers, every ad you have ever clicked on, and pretty much anything else you can think of except maybe your social security. For me, this news was not all that surprising. I see the ads that come up on my browser, I occasionally get a call from a telemarketer. My information is out there. Many people however, feel very uncomfortable with that, and they should. The problem with this problem however, is that companies have all of this information legally. It is all in that forty two page user agreement you signed when you downloaded your facebook account. Aside from this, I found it surprising how many people actually see my information. In the article, the author said that over five hundred companies had him on file with contact information and ways to target him with ads. Personally, I am worried about that number. It isn’t because I am worried about what others may see on my social media, it’s because I never knew that over five hundred companies could have my personal information. I think, that the average person if asked directly, would not agree to allowing companies to have their information for ad targeting. The problem we have, is that consumers need to search for that information in the endless user agreements that companies make.

  7. Lauren Woodward April 18, 2018 at 9:40 pm #

    In the age of the internet, one has to expect for their privacy to be compromised unless they absolutely go off the grid in terms of technology. What most realize, however, is how much of their privacy is being taken away when using sites such as Facebook or Google. Recently in the news, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been under fire concerning Facebook’s data privacy with its users, so it seems that questions regarding personal privacy are starting to accumulate for techies, such as the author of this NY Times article. The author explains his experience with uncovering how much information is kept on him throughout some sites, specifically Facebook, and the shocking truth of it all.
    The “shocking truth,” as I so dramatically put, is the extensive and detailed record of personal information Facebook keeps on all users, even the most nonactive on the site. Every interaction with ads, location, and various other factors are stored in Facebook’s memory. Google is even worse, as the author points out, where they archived data measuring about 8 gigabytes of the writer’s information collected over numerous years. Eight gigabytes is a lot of storage, more than one would expect a company to have over their millions of users. So, why do these companies collect so much information on an-average Joe user?
    This is a question I have yet to find an answer for. It boggles my mind that companies need to have such extensive data on every single one of their users. Personally, I did not know that much information is being collected on users, including myself. It frightens me to see how little privacy I have anymore, and I don’t know if I want to see what Facebook or Google has collected on me, as the author points out at the end of his article; it’s hard to unsee the invasion of privacy. As a kid starting to use the internet, teachers and parents and adults in general would make it clear to stay safe when using the web. More importantly, they’d pound in our heads to not give out any personal information. Unfortunately, nowadays you have to do so for jobs, communication, and personal uses such as shopping. Therefore, staying “safe” on the internet doesn’t seem to be a possibility for anyone anymore; privacy is nonexistent.

  8. Mary Margaret Miller April 18, 2018 at 11:33 pm #

    After reading this article, I too went on to download my data from my Facebook account. I was in awe over my findings. For about seven years, Facebook has been tracking all of my data without my knowledge. On the data file I downloaded, I found that Facebook had logged every click I had ever made on their site, as well as the types of posts I’ve liked, every page I had ever visited, and even the apps I downloaded onto my cellular device. Until this moment, I was unaware that Facebook would know of every single app I have ever downloaded or deleted from my phone over the past seven years or so. As I scrolled through the contact list Facebook had taken off of my phone, I had realized the extent of how much my privacy had been violated by this social media site. I also found that since I share an Apple iCloud account with my parents, all of the contacts that they have for their business and other personal contact numbers they have on their devices came up in my data as well.
    Within the data collection Facebook has on your profile, there is a list of all of the companies/advertisers that have copies of your contact information. Some companies that were on my list I recognized, while most I did not. It turns out that these companies had obtained information from not just Facebook, but even from the stores you shop in. Retailers and even some credit card companies are getting a hold of your information by where you swipe your credit card, and what store rewards programs you have signed up for. Once they have that data, they share it with other companies, then those companies input your information into the Custom Audiences tool on Facebook. After this process, the advertisement is then seen on your feed, and by then, other companies have already snatched more of your data, and the cycle repeats once more.
    The problem with this situation is that Facebook has been doing this for many years without getting caught. As the list of companies grows longer in the data analysis, it is only giving more public domains more access to your personal data. Users should be aware of how much their online profiles hold about their lives, and who their data may be shared with. Other companies such as Google are also at fault for logging user data. If a massive security breech were to occur within each of these companies, billions of individuals will have their identity stolen and even accessible to billions of other individuals. What can be learned about these mega mass media companies is that there is never a time where they are not tracking us, yet as consumers we should be able to trust the social media sites we use. All in all, a company should not be able to obtain or access the amount of personal information Facebook and Google hold, and it is up to the government to design a legislation that will forbid companies to violate their consumer’s privacy rights.

  9. JERRY WU April 19, 2018 at 3:14 pm #

    The year is 2018. As young children, we were taught once something is posted on the world wide web, it cannot be removed, even if you delete it yourself. In fact, larger corporations such as Facebook are able to both collect and sort this data, with the rights to it, of course. As a frequent user of social media myself, I still find myself being in awe of the completeness of other peoples’ profiles, as well as my own. I feel that other individuals can sense your personalities and interests based on what he or she posts.
    Because of this, social media platforms are able to distribute what you post to all sorts of sources, therefore giving users less privacy. In fact, privacy settings on platforms have become unnecessarily complicated for users, which should not be the case, since privacy is essential in life.

  10. Connor Wiedeman April 19, 2018 at 8:39 pm #

    Facebook’s intrusive use of user data has become a frequent issue discussed in the news and in class. Facebooks collects vast amount of user data, although most of it is collected unnecessarily and without purpose. This article was interesting because it revealed exactly how much data that Facebook collects on the average infrequent user. The author of the article, Brian Chen, stated that he was a very infrequent user and was very surprised to find that Facebook still had a sizeable amount of information and data on him. This shows how meticulous Facebook is when it comes to collecting user data and profiting off of it. The author of the article was also shocked to find that his entire contact list from his cell phone had been stored in Facebook Messenger. It seems as if Facebook and data based companies such as Google just collect and keep as much of your personal data that they can get their hands on. Although this is surely stated, or buried, in their terms of use that every user must accept to use the platform, it is still intrusive to the user and morally wrong.
    It is a good start that Facebook has been caught up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal because it opened a lot of people eyes to what goes on behind the scenes when the use Facebook and “like” posts or click on ads. Before this scandal, and sadly even after too, people have been blindly using Facebook feeding their personal data to Facebook’s servers and being sold to any advertiser willing to pay enough money. It has been proven that Facebook collects beyond what is necessary, for example, the author of the article discussed how Facebook had kept a record of all of his removed friends. This is extremely unnecessary data to store and it is strange that it has been going on. This is another striking point that Facebook’s business strategy is simply to store every megabyte of personal data they can collect from their users.
    Another panic inducing statistic in this article is that the author had discovered that over 500 companies had his contact information on file. This is an absurd amount of companies that all possess the capability to send as much spam mail as they want to your profile or email. The most surprising thing in the article is that the author had barely ever used his Facebook account to post anything, like posts, or view ads, yet Facebook still has a massive amount of information on him and still managed to get his personal information in the hands of over 500 companies. While Facebook is certainly a large opponent in the war for privacy, there are even bigger offenders such as Google. The author also downloaded the data that Google had on him, as well as Facebook, and discovered that Google had amassed 8 gigabytes of data on him, compared to the 650 megabytes that Facebook had collected. He also found that Google had been collecting extremely detailed data on him such as exactly which apps he had opened on an Android since 2015. This is unnecessary, intrusive, and strange. In my opinion people should just stop using Facebook altogether, as it is the only way to send the message that consumers won’t stand for their personal data being collected and sold at extraordinary levels.

  11. Michael Polito April 19, 2018 at 8:51 pm #

    Following the recent Facebook data breach there are some people like the author of this article who have figured out how to access the information that Facebook has on us. What he found that Facebook had on him was amazing to him but also kind of scary. They have been collecting literally everything that he has ever done on Facebook even the data on who he recently unfriended. Facebook has a lot more data on us then we think and maybe this will start to open the eyes of some people and they will finally stop using Facebook once they see how much Facebook has on us. The article claimed that anyone can go in and retrieve the data so data companies will just go in and take all the info they need on people so they can strategically place their ads. They take the information that they get and they generate ads based on the info that they get from your Facebook data. This is something that Facebook should not allow to happen because their user data should be kept private. It is starting to seem like Facebook has found another way to generate money and it does not matter to them that they are exploiting their users, it is all about the money for Zuckerberg and Facebook.
    The scariest part about the data collection is how much they are actually getting. The author of the article claims that he is not an avid Facebook user and he says that he is more of a lurker and Facebook still has so much data. They have a lot more data on him then they should for the amount he actually uses Facebook. It makes me wonder how much they have on me because I would put myself in the same classification as the author, I do not really post or like things posted on Facebook but I still use the app form time to time. It is also concerning that all this is going in behind our backs, right now in this moment my information could be being sold to a random company that I have never even heard of. This type of stuff will continue to happen unless there are regulations to stop them. The only other way to stop Facebook from collecting and giving away our data is to not use Facebook. Maybe people will start to realize and stop using the app if they see the data that they have collected on them they will stop using the app. If people see what they have collected on them and where the information is going I think it will start to creep people out. If you think about it this whole situation is creepy because it is like big brother spying on you and giving your out without you know so they can use it to produce ads about things that you like. The people who work for the company should not know what you like only your friends on the app should know. Facebook and Zuckerberg have privacy options for a reason so the info is private from anyone who is not supposed to see it, and last time I checked it was not okay for Facebook and data companies to see what I like.

  12. Adam Facella April 19, 2018 at 9:59 pm #

    The information regarding Facebook was apparent to me before reading the article. I was however surprised of the amount of data that the Facebook had on the author especially because he did not use Facebook too often. The data stored after he thought it was deleted was something else that was surprising to me. When we hit delete we figure that the information is taken care of and we will not have to worry about it again. The most interesting thing that the author talked about is the amount of data that Google had saved on him. The comparison between the amounts of data saved from Google compared to Facebook was so drastic. Every single website that he had ever visited and every single ad he clicked on along with the location of where he had accessed it. This is something that is extremely scary realizing that there is a tracking system of what we looked up along with where and when it happened. The final aspect of the data that he brings up is from his android devices. This has the access to every text message, contact information, personal information and much more. I don’t like the fact that there is my personal information everywhere on the internet and there is practically nothing I can do to stop the access. This is the world that we live in and if we want to use platforms and devices we are going to have to face the consequences of having our data taken from us. Personal information is no longer personal, big brother is truly watching our every step. It would make sense that companies would want data for selling their product, but we do not know what else they will be doing with the information that they gain from the ads that we click on and the things that we search.

  13. Luke Nadolny April 20, 2018 at 10:52 am #

    Another story stemmed from the Facebook data scandal continues to hammer home the fact that Facebook has been having the worst month a company has ever had. The people who use Facebook regularly are expected to be the main part of the population that has Facebook, but now it appears you do not even need to looking at it to have your data collected. Facebook has been criticized for the past month and at this point it sounds like a broken record, but what is not really being talked about, which is what the author discusses here, is the amount of involvement that Google has in this data collection. Bringing Google into the picture raises the level of concern drastically since Google is considered by many AS the internet, and this brings the concern that Google is as bad as Facebook. We live in a world where it is as easy as it has ever been for your location to be known, when you are not posting pictures on Snapchat telling where you are. Not only does Google know your location, but everything that it has on you can be known to anybody who cares to look, companies included, Facebook included. Now in 2018, it is hard to call privacy a thing anymore because of what has transpired, and it looks like we may never get it back because our information is just too valuable to companies who want to further their growth.

  14. Ryan Mack April 20, 2018 at 12:22 pm #

    The advent and further development of modern technology has made it significantly quicker and easier to be tracked or researched. Individuals, corporations, and government are all exploiters of the ability, but advertising corporations especially. I’ve always known that social media sites and other companies collect information on you and that whatever you put on the internet is likely to stay there forever, but it wasn’t until the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal that I had actually learned the full extent of what data a company, Facebook specifically, has on you and how they sort it, store it, and sell it. When I downloaded my data from Facebook, it came in a zip file and had smaller folders in it containing information on my profile including date and time of registration, contact info, address family members and interests, contact info including my entire contacts list from my iPhone, anything ever posted on my timeline, all of my photos and videos, friends and when I friended them, or unfriended them as well as sent and received requests and requests I denied and friend peer groups, the exact text of messages, a long list of ads and applications, pokes, events I’ve been to, and a list of sessions and information on the device used including its IP address and browser. As someone who doesn’t use Facebook that much, I was actually surprised to see this much data still stored and available to see. Some of the data is used to keep your account secure and to keep their services synced with others on your phone and always ready to use, but it’s that Facebook allows others to get a hold of some of that information is the problem. Facebook’s data policy outlines what data they collect and how they use it, and is published along with the user agreement when you sign up. It’s published to read from the app and on the desktop site under “terms”, so it’s always available to look at. It’s written using clear, simplified language that everyone should be able to understand. The only ‘issue’ is it’s long and nobody ever wants to sit and read the policy before using the product. I usually don’t. I guess it would’ve been fine if Facebook only kept it secure internally, but they didn’t. Your contact information and things you liked are shared with advertisers. When I was going through my file of data from my Facebook page, advertisers with my information appeared that I don’t recall ever giving my information to or some I’ve never even heard of. Facebook isn’t the only company to do this either. The only other company that I’ve look at my data was Google, who tracked and stored every single place my phone went. If companies are going to collect so much of my data, I’d rather it not be accessed by anyone else.

  15. Olivia Mason April 20, 2018 at 1:24 pm #

    Except for a select few, most people are only just now realizing all the data that Facebook truly has on them. After the recent Facebook data breach with Cambridge Analytica, more and more people are on the hunt to discover the information that Facebook has on them and how to limit what they are allowed to record and who is allowed to access that information. This has caused issues for other, similar type companies like Google, who also track user data and sell it to third parties (generally advertisers).
    It often comes as a surprise to users of these programs the sheer volume of information these companies collect and share, particularly when it’s data that one wouldn’t think was very valuable (like the date that you unfriend people). The amount of information is particularly surprising for those, who like the author, are considered “Facebook Lurkers”. Facebook (and its advertising clients) has access to almost every piece of information about you, no matter how active you are on the site. When you sign up to use messenger, they gain access to all the phone numbers stored in your phone, whether that be a number you called once or your best friend’s phone number.
    There are thousands of issues that can arise from singular companies having so much information on such a large percentage of the worlds population. The current issue with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica highlights many of this issues that can stem from these companies having so much information on us. One issue that I find particularly threatening is the political power that this information gives the advertisers. With the aid of algorithms used by Facebook and google, advertisements are targeted to those who (generally) already share similar views as they are more likely to click on the ad. This just reaffirms one’s current beliefs and make them ignorant to real issues that occur in the world. I think it is incredibly important that one has a report or view of issues from both sides of the spectrum. The information of users is given to advertisers to help target their desired and most receptive audience.
    The mass amounts of information that are collected by these sites are quite a worrisome feature, and something that more people should become aware of. If enough uproar is made about these features, then the companies will have to change their business plans and software in order to better respect the wishes of their users.

  16. Lucas Rodriguez April 20, 2018 at 5:08 pm #

    The seemingly internet engulfed environments which we have inevitably been consumed continues to trail along a pernicious path of technological optimization; the streets, stores, and houses of our universe are subject to such a digital override. With this increasing cyber age, much of the population could be found on our internet domains, and more specifically, Facebook has become a digital target of popularity and demand. Individuals of any age could comfortable situate themselves within the border of the corporation-based website, as it currently houses almost a third of our entire 7.6 billion worldly population, having over 2.8 billion users. But with this populous and popular database, consumers expect their privacy to be of the most crucial concern, especially with a monopolistic profit seeking company as such. However, this is not the case. As seen in our most recent news with the Cambridge Anayltica, a data mining firm, data leak, our internet is not as secure as we believe it to be. So in terms of this article emphasizing the true vulnerability of our information, I am not surprised at all. The main way Facebook makes its revenue in its powerhouse omnipotence, is through advertisements. Throughout the course of our “Facebook” lifetimes, we have been subject to over hundreds of these targeted advertisements whether we know it or not, and as harmless as we believe them to be they speak to us directly, mocking us, yelling out our personal information and screaming, “I know you are interested in this ad, because I exploited your personal preferences!”. These advertisements are responsible for over 10 billion of the estimated 11.5 billion revenue the company attracts, representing just under 90 percent of total funds. These pop-ups shadow our every move; they crave our personal information as it was an oxygenic sustenance that promotes their functionalities, only desiring to continue to pay into our lives and hoping that we click on their display. And whether we believe it or not each and every time we post something, like something, or add a friend, we are being watched and monitored and only further feeding into this mass manipulation scheme while spreading its area of targeting. Our photos, videos, and anything we like, type, or delete is always surfacing the web despite its guaranteed 30 day deletion period. As explained within the article its part of their “policy”. Currently, because of such personal privacy violations Facebook has been under much scrutiny and has been under investigation by the FTC. It has been estimated to pay over millions of dollars if found completely at fault, and has recently set us a Data Abuse Bounty to set more steep regulations and pay those who have been victim to such privacy breaches. Being one of the largest social platforms in the world, which has been built up by the incessant consumer demand over the years, Facebook itself is target for such manipulation as well, as seen by the recent data leak. Within its populous atmosphere, companies will undoubtedly bargain for such personal information, and as seen over the years with its rather lackluster security systems, Facebook in whole is subject to exploitation by other data mining firms. It has been rumored to have a major role in the past election as well, by allowing the implementation of advertisements which are directly promoted to consumers in order to grow popularity for a candidate or determine other political aspects such as speaking location potential. Using Facebook when I was younger, I had not noticed such advertisements and certainly did not read up on the policies, like probably most of the population. I viewed it as another entertaining application that would allow me to be personal and secure, as I ventured on to messaging hundreds of my friends directly, posted private photos, and painted my ideal bio which included personal information and preferences. And I am almost positive many have done the same, only now realizing how we have been feeding into such an egregious amount of varying sources in the platform. We feel infringed upon and demand compensation, but at most deleting our accounts our seeking monetary reward cannot suffice for the countless years of memories and personal values which have been so effortlessly breached, making us feel as if but another character figure in the “Truman Show”.

  17. Grace Galuppo April 20, 2018 at 6:03 pm #

    Companies like Facebook and Google have been compiling information on their users for years. Facebook has been under scrutiny recently after the government took issue with Facebook’s privacy policy. Mark Zuckerberg and other high-level employees of Facebook have been defending their company’s data and privacy settings and policies. Congress could possibly infer and create legislation to monitor companies like Facebook from collecting information. However, I believe that companies will find ways around future legislation to use consumer information and sell the information for advertising purposes. Furthermore, people need to be aware of what types of information about them is being collected and shared. Additionally, I think that many people are ignorant when it comes to Facebook and how they can extract information from their accounts. I only created a Facebook account so that I could receive updates for my sorority that were only being shared through Facebook; nonetheless, Facebook still has my information in a database somewhere. Similarly, to the author, I would describe myself as a “Facebook lurker”, because my profile is limited and I rarely scroll through what my friends post; however, I do occasionally use Facebook’s messaging app, Messenger. I learned that Messenger collects a person’s entire contact list from their phone instead of those contacts on Messenger.
    Facebook exploits their users by selling their information to advertising companies and brands. As Professor Shannon has referenced in class, if you are using a product or service free you are not likely the consumer or target audience. In addition to Facebook having your personal information, so will hundreds of other brands that you may not know of. Brands can acquire an individual’s information by using tracking technologies that download your web browser and browsing activities. Technology devices that track one’s history and information, like web cookies, allow companies to buy that information. Facebook also has a setting called Custom Audiences tool, which allows advertisers to target specific people who would likely open the ad. In addition, Facebook has ten different trackers that can help advertisers collect their users’ information. Companies can also buy information from data providers, who offer different types of customer data sets. For instance, the data providers can sell contact information from people of a certain demographic who they want to target.
    What Facebook is doing is legal, but it also is unethical. Taking personal information from users and selling it to third parties should not be done without the consent of their users. Congress needs to make legislation that will restrict what Facebook does with the information they collect. Facebook claims that “it was limiting its practice of allowing advertisers to target ads using information from third-party data brokers”, however can we take Facebook’s word for it? Facebook has repeatedly apologized over their privacy policies and the invasion of their users. In conclusion, users need to be active when they download new apps or use services like Google and protect their data and information.

  18. John Mundia April 20, 2018 at 6:40 pm #

    The day that professor Shannon told the class about how one can retrieve the data that Facebook has on a person, I decided to follow through on the prompt. I began to download all the data that I had given over to Facebook. I was surprised by the amount of reach that Facebook had. Conversations over Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and even Instagram Direct Messages. The amount of data was not limited to what was shared just on Facebook. A lot of the data came from group messages which people that I haven’t spoken to. It also seems that they were completely aware of everything that had been going on in the lives of millions of people across the country. I found it rather appalling that Facebook’s response was a mere apology that seemed half-hearted at best. I think that it is imperative for Facebook if they wish to keep a consumer base that is going to continually use them to stop such ridiculous acts.

    It seems that people need to demand more from Facebook. Considering that Facebook was getting a monetary benefit from the invasion of privacy for millions of people. The invasion of privacy should not go unpunished by the law. Fortunately, it seems that there is an ongoing investigation into Facebook. That investigation will hopefully bring to light what occurred in Facebook’s nefarious actions.

  19. Luis F Gonzalez Jr April 20, 2018 at 7:27 pm #

    I can’t download the data Facebook has on me because I deleted my account many months ago but my girlfriend volunteered to see her data with me. We both sat down and started looking at the information Facebook had on her, connected with her, and personal messages. This was quite surprising because the photos and messages seen dated back to the year 2012 even though those pictures and messages have been deleted for many years. Facebook tracked her account sign ins and outs, had all her contacts, and showed a list of advertisements relating to her interests. We were surprised and thought it was comical, the kind that makes you cringe and I asked her what she thought. She replied, “Facebook is a stalker, really creepy.” She wasn’t informed about the amount of information the company was holding on her. I told her that the info shown to us was just the surface of what they have on their servers. The rumor is that Facebook has over 100 data pointers and many do not know about them. What surprised me the most was the ability of using facial recognition to identify you in photos. That is the type of technology government has and uses daily and Facebook having it makes it seem that they are watching you more than you believe.

    The amount of data Facebook has shown to have on individuals does not surprise me. I had an idea about the company keeping track of my interests and disinterests. I noticed on Instagram, an entity owned by Facebook, was showing me similar pics and advertisements of pictures I recently liked. They would place these similar posts on my explore page and demonstrated these advertisements on my feed. At first, I did not notice the formula they had but later on I did. I was amazed and knew Facebook has some form of system keeping track of my activity on the apps.

    The funny thing is that when I told this to my girlfriend, she said she didn’t use Facebook anymore but instead Instagram and Whatsapp. I notified her that those two apps are all part of Facebook corporation. I explained to her about how this is bad for the American people because Facebook is known to inform about 60% of citizens about the daily news. They had too much influence and this put the users on an unfair position. They are valuable because they hold much data on their users, making the users their products and profiting from them. With such power, they hold a huge amount of responsibility in producing and monitoring real unbiased content but Facebook has recently been accused of selling data in order to influence the 2016 election. This is an unfair practice against the American people because it feeds false information to the people. Making them think and act in wrongful, ignorant ways.

    Overall, Facebook has an immense power in their users. They might or might not have a huge market power but they are very influential and the way they perform in their apps needs to regulated in order to produce real, unbiased content.

  20. Sebastien Jose Fortes April 20, 2018 at 8:09 pm #

    I’m not surprised by this at all. I’ve noticed in my own experience that strange companies have found ways to reach out to me. Local bands in my hometown, restaurants in the town over, and all kinds of companies have invited me to ‘like’ their page or have followed me on Instagram.

    I have no reason to visit a Williams-Sonoma.

    What’s also sketchy about Facebook is the fact that you’re not allowed to use a pseudonym. Fake information such as birthdays and interests aren’t as strictly enforced against.

    There shouldn’t be a problem with some of the information they keep. Who you add or delete passes through their servers anyway, and could possibly be used as evidence if, somehow, it’s needed.

    As for contact information, I also think it’s absurd that they keep contacts for so many people, but I doubt they’ll have much use for the information. My dad says not to put information into a site unless there’s a red asterisk on the registration page.

    I feel as though it’s also partly on the user to protect himself from problems. Facebook isn’t LinkedIn or a resume, so there should be no reason to tell them your professional skills, or to add every single person you meet. If there’s no need, it shouldn’t be there. That’s what writers call “killing your darlings”.

    Now, I don’t think it’s a huge problem that Facebook knows so much about people, because, as I’ve said, they shouldn’t have a lot of uses for it. However, there should be more transparency when it comes to what they obtain from users, and there should be a clear way to request that they don’t keep information.

    If Facebook continues to sell information to target ads toward users, the users should be able to adapt against them. Ad-blocker softwares are updated over time, but even without blockers, people should know better than to trust an ad they see simply because it’s there. I, for one, don’t go out to Barnes & Noble every single time I see one of those ads.

    While it’s fair to see a problem in what Facebook is doing, users should consider viewing the issue from another angle in order to find a different solution.

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