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.

Posted in Privacy and tagged , , .


  1. 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. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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”.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. et animal = “cat”

    func soundFor(animal: String) -> String {
    switch animal {
    case “cat”:
    return “Meow!”
    case “dog”:
    return “Woof!”
    case “cow”:
    return “Moo!”
    case “chicken”:
    return “Cluck!”
    return “I don’t know that animal!”
    soundFor(animal: animal)

  20. I am baffled to see so many people who are unaware of their privacy being violated by more than, one group of people. Until a couple of years ago, I was also naive as to what personal information, I was allowing social media and advertising companies to obtain. Facebook creates a profile on their users based on, the information the users post of their wall. It is appalling to see the company profile over a billion people, they have never met. How do we know these profiles that Facebook creates about their users are even remotely accurate?

    I am a Facebook user who only goes on to watch videos. I doubt the profile they have created about me is accurate. In the article it also states that, Facebook predicts a person’s political position and party. I did not believe it myself so, I started digging through my account settings and saw my political status. I have never posted any political post or video on Facebook, nor to any social media site. The political party or group they had me affiliated with was not even, my correct political party. They make predictions about a person’s political affiliation and it is displayed for any person who can view that account. Did they ever stop to think about the accuracy of their predictions? Because, the company obviously got my party wrong and now it is available for any of my friends to view.

    As we have seen recently, the Facebook Company is not too careful with their users’ personal data. It makes me wonder if any other group or company has obtained, at their disposal, the data of two billion users. That has to be illegal and if it is not then, I believe it is definitely unethical. This is an immoral act, selling their users personal data only to make a quick buck. Do they think our personal information is nothing but, a bunch of dollar signs? This is not a game, it is someone’s personal business. I believe that our privacy should not be taken so lightly and, the social media companies that are taking advantage should be punished.

    In conclusion, it seems that no matter what an individual does to make their privacy settings secure, these companies will continue to keep finding ways to obtain a user’s personal data. If we do not bring this to the attention of the masses, it will continue to be ignored. These companies will continue to take advantage of an individual’s personal data for their own self-interests. When in reality, the company Facebook should be looking out for their consumer’s wellbeing. The only issue that concerns the companies obtaining anyone’s personal data is, the ability to produce profits. A person’s privacy is the least of their concerns, it is really a sad thing to see when money means more than a person’s privacy.

  21. This article exemplifies the same vision I had when I downloaded my own data a couple of weeks ago. I was completely impressed, shocked, and disappointed that such information about me was being gathered since I have Facebook around 10 years ago. If we combine the amount of time we’ve spent on social media, from 2008 to now, I am sure that it would be months spent on it. In my opinion, the power of those apps to keep people connected to them cause something really close to addiction, and this can be a new drug of the 21st century. Not only that, Facebook is reportedly causing cases of depression and anxiety, especially in younger people, which usually look at their lives, and all the problem that they face, believing they are the only ones who pass through these situations, since everyone else’s lives look amazing on Facebook or Instagram. However, this is just an illusion, since everyone faces problems and they just don’t post them into Facebook. And on the top of it, considering all the harm Facebook causes on people’s mental health, it collects data on anything we do on their platform, and sells it to the one who pays the most. As such, we should start to question us and question our friends and family if we want to stay connected in a platform which is indirectly causing such harm to people. Is that moment of happiness and good feelings when you receive a like or a love on your profile picture worth all the negative feelings Facebook causes us. Many will say it’s not worth it, still they keep connected to Facebook every day of their lives, constantly feeling those ways, and entering into a vicious cycle. If all of this wasn’t enough, Facebook still keeps track of everything we do online, knowing more about us than perhaps, the people we know better. We should be doing something about it. A company cannot have all this effect on people, this will become a huge problem in the future, even worse than it is now if we don’t take action right now.

  22. The Internet was never a safe place – that’s what my parents have constantly advised me while growing up. I had to be cautious of what I put on the web, because we all leave our digital footprint, and that’s permanent. This is one of the reasons I was never allowed to have social media until I was at a “mature” age. Even then, it never really occurred to me that the information I put on my social accounts would be important. I always assumed that people had better things to do than go through my private information that really, should have no value to them. However it turns out to be the opposite, companies like Facebook store every piece of information that you input onto your account (your name, birthday, address, phone number, friends you’ve friended and deleted). Facebook has been under watch for a while now, they’ve been taking in personal information of users and selling it. After being caught a few times and paying minor penalties, Mark Zuckerberg is facing fines for violating an agreement that claimed they would not reveal private information and if done so, they would pay a fine. After Mark Zuckerberg testifies in front of Congress, the FTC will conduct and investigation to determine whether or not Zuckerberg violated the agreement or not.
    It is important to be aware of what information we share on the internet. Partially I will say it is our fault because we are the ones who share those information willingly, however it does not mean that that information is up for sale. The policy agreement should be ready more often, I am assuming that like me a lot of people skim over the privacy policy agreement and don’t read it, and simply click the “I agree” button to make the Facebook account. Thus, we should keep in mind that our information isn’t stored away secretly and safely in a box, but it is open for the rest of the world to look and if there is something we don’t want to be known, then don’t type it online. I can say personally there are information that I sometimes wish I didn’t publicly display so it is important to keep that in mind.

  23. Here we are again, talking about yet another article about Facebook. Usually, the subject would probably getting old by now after months of discussion. But not this issue. The Facebook is so big and groundbreaking in this modern day and age that it will be talked about for years to come. People now realize that nothing is private anymore. Your data will be taken by Facebook no matter what you post. Once in the hands of Facebook, who knows what will happen to it. Of course the biggest possibility is that it will be sold to an advertising agency for a profit.
    To most people’s knowledge, the data that Facebook captures holds on to is minor. Many people believe that the only thing Facebook is taking is their name and address. But unfortunately, as proven by this article, it is far worse than people are imagining. Facebook knows every person you have ever followed or unfollowed, if you have ever deactivated your account, and worst of all, they have access to every contact on your phone, even if they are not a Facebook user!
    This article really resonated with me because of the real world implications it has on my life. I am very similar to the author of this article in the sense that I rarely use Facebook. I look at it occasionally, but never post anything or interact with ads or games. Because of the fact that I rarely use the social media site, I thought I would be in the clear. Of course I knew that Facebook had gotten access to some of my data, but because of my lack of usage I thought that it could not possibly be that much. But now after reading this article, I realize the amount of data Facebook has on me. It is a really scary thing to know that Facebook knows every contact in my phone, and every person I have ever followed or unfollowed. I also learned that Facebook holds on to data even after it is “permanently” deleted. I feel that this is a much larger issue than many people think it is and feel that Facebook deserves a big punishment. They should be forced to change their policies or face large consequences.

  24. It has become quite apparent that social media does not just connect you with your friends. Companies like Facebook collect user’s data and share it with whoever they want. That seems pretty social, however, people don’t want to be this social. People want to control what information gets shared and who it gets shared with. As this article provides, Facebook collects whatever data they can from you, including things you never entered into Facebook, including all of your phones contacts. This is all describes in the terms of service, apparently, because no one actually reads the terms of service.
    In Zuckerberg’s trial, he claimed Facebook had a tool to download your data which allows people to see what data they have in Facebook. Further, it is supposed to allow users to delete information, but this is more of an overstatement. The author describes trying to delete the information about him, but it limited him to deleting basic information. Certain types of data do not have the option of being deleted, and this is infuriating to users. There has become a rule that anything you put on the internet will be there forever, and this is going to be the sad truth for a while until regulators change how much control companies have over our data.

  25. Ever since we started discussing this topic in class it seemed too unbelievable to be true. It makes me feel like big brother is watching and anything I do will be recorded and held on Facebook’s record forever. I’ve been trying to cope with the fact that Facebook has all the information I’ve posted on Facebook. What scares me is that they have information that I did not intentionally post like all my contacts. The article mentions that they agreed to share their contacts with the Facebook Messenger app and they thought they were only sharing the other contacts who also had Facebook Messenger. I actually use Facebook Messenger and that means Facebook has every single one of my contacts, whether I like it or not. They’ve been taking our data for years without us even knowing and its creepy. I’ve unfriended so many people and I don’t like the fact that Facebook is still going to know I have associated with them. It makes me feel like the only way to make sure Facebook doesn’t have all this information is if I completely delete my account and wipe my data from their servers. All of this information is going to follow me around for the rest of my life. The article provides a link to help readers download their information from Facebook. The unnerving thing about that is if I can download all my information it is probably possible for someone else to has all my information. Around 500 advertisers have all this information about everyone like it’s not big deal because we should just trust that it is in the right hands. In the past I’ve definitely noticed ads popping up that pertained to my interests even though I’d never searched for anything like it. I didn’t know Facebook was tracking literally every page I’d ever clicked on and every article I ever read.
    There is a side of me that isn’t really upset but impressed they’ve been doing this under the radar for so long. They developed technology that accurately targeted people based on their activity. This most likely has extremely beneficial applications for using against potential threats. Any time the government is caught in a scandal like this they say how they are doing it for national security and get away with it. We shouldn’t always look at the negative side of these issues but the potential benefit it could bring us. If we have the right intentions and try to put money aside then we have the ability to gain valuable information that could legitimately save people. There could be potential red flags and indicators to alert local police to a possible murder suspect or someone who is suicidal. It might not happen soon but I can definitely see positive benefits coming from this technology that Facebook is using.

  26. It sometimes seems that the events that happen in today’s world should be astonishing. Yet, I have found that most things I already am knowledgeable about. And if I do not know for sure, I usually have an inkling. On another note, people tend to be … predictable, myself included. I am not astonished about all this information that has been collected on people such as myself. Honestly, it is not as if people had not tried to warn others of their virtual doppelgänger. At this point in time one can only really accept that they have no privacy. One can only accept that with just a couple hits on the keyboard and the click of a mouse that their information will show up on the internet. If they do not wish to accept this, then they must at an early age learn to use the internet to their advantage. They must learn at an early age to be knowledgeable about how a computer works, how the internet works and what they must do in order to make it hard for someone to gather information on them. They must become professional internet users. Along with that they must not use social media platforms such as Facebook and others. If they do they must be smart about how they use these platforms. In all honesty, they must want or have a reason to not want to be accessed on the internet.
    On another note, after reading this article, I was curious to see what my online profile would look like. I did request from both Facebook and Google the portfolio that they both created on me. Now I am just waiting for both platforms to update me that they have finished gathering all the information that they have gathered on me through the many years that I have surfed over the internet. I am in some ways kind of excited and scared to see what is linked to my name. It is as the article finishes “you won’t be able to unsee” all the information that they have linked to your name. Hopefully it is nothing too crazy…

  27. The Facebook data scandal is one that many people predicted would happen, however, it does not make it right. Social media is a generally accepted form of communication these days Statista.com reported that as of 2017 over 81% of the United States population at least one form of social media. Personally, I have had a Facebook account since I was nine years old in addition to the many other forms that I currently use on a daily basis. I had originally read this New York Times article a month ago when the scandal surfaced. Upon reading the article, I was struck with awe due to the copious amounts of information they have stored on each of its users and I had a lot of the same reactions and thoughts of this article although I also took it upon myself to look at it from a business standpoint to make an attempt at playing devils advocate.

    In my personal experience, I went into my settings on Facebook and followed an online guide as to how to access the information Facebook had on me. When I saw the information my jaw dropped, not only did they have a plethora of information on me that I did not know how they obtained, there was a lot of incorrect information listed about me as well. I would also like to add in that since I learned in high school that higher education institutions and future employers would have access to my page my posts became unbiased and sparse. As I mentioned earlier I have had an account since I was nine years old, imagine the silly things young people post about in comparison to me only sharing funny or relatable memes on the platform, rarely posting something original. Due to the fact that I barely post on Facebook most of the information they had on me had been extremely outdated. The incorrect information they had gathered on me included things such as my political viewpoint which I tend to not want to be published anywhere or assumed because it can have implications during future career searches.

    As a student in business school I tried to look at it from the business standpoint and take myself out of the consumer viewpoint. As someone who has taken marketing classes, I have an understanding on how important it is to know the customer and how it is important to know your target market. To achieve knowing your customer and target market you need to be able to pull information on people, so you are advertising to someone who would potentially buy the product. From strictly a business standpoint, I can see how it would be useful to know general information about the person such as relationship status, age, religion, general location, etc. Facebook has tracked too much information on me and has a list of every TV show I have ever watched, who else is using the same Wi-Fi as me, and my “interests”. There is no reason for Facebook to hold data on what other people and devices are using the same Wi-Fi as me. The article talked about how they keep a list on who people have been unfriended so that they no longer appear on “On This Day” notifications however that is completely inaccurate. I have people that I have blocked and unfriended appear on my “On This Day” notification several times. They are collecting too much data on people and there needs to be change, even from a business standpoint.

  28. Facebook has access to everything you put on Facebook. This should be blatantly obvious. While I am not totally in agreement, I understand that I am giving them information, if I put something on Facebook. I feel the author of this article dramatized how much information Facebook has and retains. He mentions a couple of times how there is a permanent record of the 112 people he deleted from his friends list. The fact they keep records of these things doesn’t surprise me, and it isn’t something I see as a problem. Commenting on how little Facebook “forgets”, the author mentions how it recorded the date he signed up for Facebook and the one time he deactivated and reactivated his account. Facebook isn’t a human being, and even humans can remember specific dates.
    There were a few things that surprised me in the article. The fact that Facebook kept a record of his entire phone book was interesting, but then once I thought about how he uploaded it through the messenger app it didn’t seem as surprising. It was also strange to read that Facebook has a history of every time you open Facebook, including the device and browser used. While I thought it was strange that they kept this information, it didn’t surprise me that they had it. From reading this article it became clear that the problem is that people assume what information is kept. They think that, instead of Facebook being an application, it is some sentient being that sees the information in a profile as anything more than information. The author was bothered that there was a list of people he “unfriended”. I find it ridiculous this is mentioned three different times. The fact that he does not want to be reminded of people that he “unfriended” is not a reason for this data not to be retained. People need to start realizing that there is no need for Facebook and similar services to “forget” information. There is no reason to pick and choose information to keep. Privacy on Facebook wouldn’t be a problem if people didn’t assume that Facebook only retained some information.

  29. Many people, just like this author, have been surprised when they download their data from Facebook. The amount of data that it keeps and shares goes beyond the capacity of most of our imaginations. Facebook is an entity unlike anything most of us have ever seen so much of what it can do (or has already done) is unfamiliar to those of us who have not experienced the kinds of things. I would suspect that as years go by and the more these things become part of a public conversation more and more people come to understand the level at which their information is being stored and most importantly, being used.

    As for Mr. Zuckerberg’s comment that Facebook has a tool that allows people to take out information that they don’t want there I would say that is not right especially when we see that statement is not true. However, most of us know that Mr. Zuckerberg is a billionaire. How do we suppose that he makes this money? Advertising is big business. Not to mention we have access to do so much and it is all “free of cost”. It is easy for some to conclude that it is free in theory but not in practice. This information that he says we have the liberty of removing actually assists him in his large profit. I read somewhere that 82% of his 2012 first quarter profits came from advertising. We should ask ourselves how our usage of Facebook plays a part in those gains.

    We should just suspect that anything we submit to the internet, be it Facebook or another social media outlet, is the internet’s for keep. It is a terrible thing to have to accept that your information is not yours and that you should be able to protect it by approval of some sort, however, with all the money that’s at stake here, it is my opinion to err on the side of caution especially when dealing with cyber space.

  30. Facebook, like other social media platforms are designed to help people virtually socialize with the peers and stay in touch with all their friends and family even if they are miles and miles away from them. It is not expected that this social media website would collect data about users and store them on their servers for only God knows how long. It is a great way to stay in touch with your friends and family but this aspect of it makes it difficult to use and to have confidence in what you want to share. I have never downloaded my Facebook data and to know that even if you delete your account, your data does not delete from their servers for about 90 days is disturbing and quite surprising considering you would assume that your data is deleted however it is still on their servers. This brings to mind the need for users to be informed of such technicalities. With regards to Facebook adding your phones contacts to your account’s contact list it is dependent on your settings, if you choose to sync your contacts that is when that happens. It is necessary for users of this social media website to know the necessity of tweaking their settings to prevent certain misuse of their data. If your settings are the default you can accidentally leave you account open for predators. Data miners are to blame for adding other websites that you visit to your Facebook feed when you login afterwards. This is a huge problem because it violates your browsing privacy. I am familiar with this phenomenon and I wish I can turn that off somehow. If Facebook is offering other website trackers to track your information then it looks like Facebook actually goes out of its way to seek your information which is rather questionable. It is true that there should be a better way to regulate data brokerage companies like Acxiom that collects all your browsing data and sell it to the highest bidder because this violates our First Amendment Protection. We the consumers should not be regulated by a private company that is not authorized to regulate our browsing activities. This consumer profiling should be regulated. I think the FTC report that is asking Congress for greater transparency from data brokers and the consumers right to know what information they have on them is a great idea and would help regulate what data brokers can and cannot share.

  31. Facebook was under a decent amount of scrutiny after Mark Zuckerberg was being question by congress not too long ago. However, after reading this article, I feel as though Facebook should be looked into further. There is a reason why they make so much money and that is because of all the information they get from the people. Without all this information, they would not be able to get nearly as many ads on Facebook than they do now. That is where all their revenue comes from considering that Facebook is a free social media network. Facebook has gone too far with what they can gather from people. They should not be able to get into my contact list and from the article they clearly can. This is an invasion of privacy and is not fair. Not only do they do this, but they do this knowing that people cannot do anything about this. Almost everything is run though Facebook now. If you want to log into any other cite, 95% of the time there is an option to sign in through your Facebook account which only allows them to gather even more information from a person. The thing that I found out to be the worst out of all of this is that they do not delete anything. Even if I wanted to go in and delete something, ONE certain things cannot be deleted and TWO even if I do delete them, they are not gone. All data is still stored away in their data bases, but it just cannot be seen by the public. The crazy thing is even if I deleted my Facebook account, it would not be gone for at least 90 days. All of my information is out there somewhere and I cannot even see if myself.
    I urge everybody to watch what they put on Facebook anywhere. Even if it says that it is a private message, there is always somebody monitoring it. This does not only apply to Facebook, though. All of these social media cites and even google. As stated in the article, google had even more information collected on the author. Not only did it show all the things they had looked up but also the exact article that they have read and the exact time and date they opened these files. This is an extremely detailed thing to keep track of and I am not entirely sure how necessary it is. With that being said, people really need to be care of what they are typing on their computers, phones, and tablets. There is so much information out there about you that you do not even know.

  32. While I understand why people are so scared of having their information on servers like Facebook, I have no sympathy for those that are upset by the end result. The author of the article, Brain Chen, was “unsettled” by the fact that his contacts were kept by Facebook and stored on his on personal file. But I don’t get why he was so unsettled. He gave permission to Facebook to use his contacts, and while many people think it is just temporary, there has been enough information out there about companies and the general knowledge about computers for everyone to know that is certainly isn’t. With the Bush Administration passing the Patriot Act in 2001, and our current generation knowing only what it is like to live with social media in our pocket at all times, the countless times we have been warned about posting certain information on a public space, there really should be no shock.
    All social media companies that are free (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter ect.) need to make money to run. And how they do that is by placing advertisements. These advertisers that place ads want a return on their money. Thus, they need that information that Facebook and other companies have. They use that information to ensure that the ads that are placed, are optimized for that specific user. It would be a complete waste of money for companies to place ads continuously about children toys, for example, on my Facebook page when I don’t have kids, nor do I work with children. It would be better for ads about nightlife, recent books I have read, ect, to be placed on my Facebook feed. I simply can’t wrap my head around this notion that people are taken back by the information that is stored and synthesized. This is the whole point of a computer and their programs.
    Brain Chen stated that “My Facebook data also revealed how little the social network forgets. For instance, in addition to recording the exact date I signed up for Facebook in 2004, there was a record of when I deactivated Facebook in October 2010, only to reactivate it four days later — something I barely remember doing.” While I can understand why someone would be taken back by the amount of information stored, such as Brain’s information about different dates. This is how Facebook thrives, and so do all other companies. Every piece of information, now matter how large or small it is, allows Facebook to paint a clearer picture of that specific user. And when a company the size of Facebook is netting close to 16 billion dollars, they are certainly going to be grabbing any information they can.
    While I can’t understand the surprise that Brain Chen has, as well as the other commenters that I saw on the New York Times page, I do understand the issues that people take with their information being taken and sold to the highest bidder. Or being used to further personalize their searches on Google. We would like to know that when we browse a web sites or type keywords into a search bar, that our information flows in one way and right out the other way without being stored, or looked at. Furthermore, I think the issues that people have is the exploitation of inevitable actions, praying on the weak. Everywhere you go, there is a heavier and heavier reliance on the use of the internet and computers. Most jobs have you fill out an online application, banking is done almost primarily over their website ( I have personally used a teller at a zero times in the past six years, doing personal taxes can be done using a bit of software that is easily downloaded from their websites. We are being held hostage by our phones and computers that trying to navigate the world without those two is near impossible. I don’t need to look any further than going to Rider University. I am required to have an email account. I need to turn in papers on Canvas, certain classes are only online. No person who is connected to the world can operate without a phone and a computer/tablet and these companies know that, thus, they have no issue with buying as much information as possible. Some would argue they are acting unscrupulous, I would argue that they are just finding loopholes in this game.

  33. Facebook has been scrutinized for the treatment of the user’s data for a long time. The amount of information Facebook retains on each person, even those who rarely use the site, does not surprise me. Many social media platforms gain the most money from ads and user information. Many people who have been raised with Facebook have an enormous amount of personal information on social media sites that will never be completely erased. Any information an individual has given to Facebook will be permanently saved into Facebook’s database. Profiles and all information relevant is sold to advertisers. Any time an ad is clicked, that gives more information to advertisers about your habits. Looking into all the information Facebook has saved on a user who isn’t very active only gives us a glimpse at the amount of information every website we log into has gotten and saved. Nothing put online is private, Facebook users can select private settings but this does nothing to protect this information from being given to advertisers.
    Many people who use Facebook and other apps allow them to track location. This is done to get certain features and to protect from stolen identity. While it can help track any suspicious activity, it also will never delete this information. There is a permanent record of where an individual has been, which is disturbing to know. All contacts I have ever saved to my phone can be accessed by Facebook because I gave access to the messenger app. This also means many advertisers can reach my contact information because another Facebook user has my information. Information we easily give can never be taken back.
    As mentioned in the blog, its beyond Facebook and social media platforms; its beyond Google and search engines; advertisers are even using banks to gain information. A system people have trusted with their money is using loyalty programs to make money. Any site you visit will use any information you are willing to give to advertisers and sell to companies to gain marketing information. There is a question as to why we still use all these sites knowing all the information they use from us. Are we agreeing to allow companies to use and sell this information just by using their sites? The amount of information gathered about each individual seems too immense to not be an invasion of privacy.

  34. Growing up with the internet at my hands, my parents always scolded me saying whatever I put on the internet, it’ll be there forever. Now that I’m older, I’m mature enough to realize that this is very true. Companies like Facebook and Google have all of this information completely legally. We sign away any rights to privacy in the forty two page user agreement when we downloaded our Facebook accounts. Thankfully for me, I stopped using Facebook around the time when all of my most unwise decisions seemed like the normal thing to do. But what about my peers? Should their careers suffer because the 14 year old them thought that calling someone a certain name was the smartest move? I think we should be able to surf the web without having to worry about who is gathering my personal information, where is it being stored and what are they doing with it. At the same time, the internet is an entire industry in itself. Companies should be able to profit through ad revenues, page visits and mailing lists. The most logical answer to this problem, regulate the internet at a federal level. I’m not familiar with the law, I don’t know if that’s legal, and regulating the internet seems like a money pit anyway. So in my own opinion, companies like Facebook should be allowed to do whatever they want. In the end, being on Facebook is a choice and how much privacy people want is a moral issue, not an issue needed for regulation.

  35. Facebook has been known for giving away your personal data to advertisers and other companies for various reasons. This data could be what pages you like, who you are friends with, and what your search history is on Facebook. The most intriguing part that was brought up in this article was Facebook having all of your contact info and your contacts that are in your address book. This is intruding because now they have everyone’s phone number that you have in your contacts. With this Facebook keeps track of what ads you click on while you are on their site. It goes to even more extremes with advertisement companies having your contact information and some of these companies are names that you have never heard of.
    Google is also another company that guilty of taking and using your personal data. I feel that the most common way Google does this is from your search history and what sites you visited while using Google. This means that Google knows everything that you are doing and knows where and when you are searching for things. This is very alarming but it is something that I choose to give up. This is because with Google, I can look up anything I want and get instant results for it. Overall, Privacy is something that I would like to have. However, If I choose to use sites like Google or Facebook, I give this up because of the terms and agreements that I agreed upon prior to using the sites.

  36. We are entering a new era where big data is everything. It is like the petrol of the 21st century, all the big companies want to have the monopoly on it. Personal data like name, age, address, center of interest, hobbies, trips, habits, or politic opinions is analyzed and stocked. Facebook is one of these companies that can get the most data because it counts more than 2 billions users. By collecting these data, Facebook is making money with targeted advertising. Additionally to personal data, the different posts, photos, videos, likes, or even the websites that users access via the application Facebook gives a lot of information about them. Actually, Facebook knows its users even better that they know themselves. A recent study from Cambridge University researchers showed that Facebook is better than friends or family to determinate someone’s personality. (https://www.lesinrocks.com/2015/01/20/actualite/facebook-vous-connait-mieux-que-vos-amis-11548845/). To have a better understanding how Facebook is using personal data here is an example. A user who lives in Brussels posts pictures from his last trip in Punta Cana. By analyzing these data, Facebook will target this user by showing him ads related to cheap flights to other destinations. This will encourage the user to buy flight tickets and go on vacation. Big data revolution is supposed to make people’s life easier but we have to be careful to not be tricked by these targeted ads which push us to consume irrationally.
    Also, recently Facebook had a scandal with Cambridge Analytica. Data from 87 millions of Facebook users has been leaked and used to influence political votes. This scandal has impacted the company with declining stocks but it has even more impacted our life. We say that political decision like the Brexit has been possibly influenced by this. If it is true, any leaks of the big data can have a huge impact in the world. Facebook is one of the biggest bank of personal data in the world. The company has to be really careful on how to use these data but people also have to be more aware about what kind of data they are giving and how it can be used.

  37. Facebook has constantly been under pressure by many people in regards to this exact topic Brian Chen has brought up in his New York Times article. Why do they keep so much of our data and why are they selling our information without our consent? It is scary to know how much of our personal information is accessible over the internet. Some responses that Facebook gave Chen seemed reasonable, for example, why they keep track of every time he logged in and out of Facebook and where he was. It makes sense to make sure he is not being hacked or someone is using his profile. But what about all the wrong people that get our information when it is sold? In reality, they’re the ones truly misusing our information. Human trafficking is a very large global issue and they have been using online tactics to kidnap people recently. With this open availability of information on younger people, they are able to gather our personal information and use that to pin point our locations or relatively close. I personally know a few people who have been messaged by strangers on Facebook asking for money or if they wanted to meet up alone. It is truly frightening that our data is being accessed by people who want to scare us, or worse, harm or kidnap us.
    Chen also talks about Google and how Google has even more data stored than Facebook. This was not surprising at all knowing how much of our data was stored from the website. I have been using Google for as long as I can remember along with my Gmail. Chen noted they were very detailed in how much data they stored from us and how they did not comment back to him immediately in regards to why they stored so much data. Just like Facebook, they are giving our information out for the purpose of advertising. Have you noticed that when you view something on Google from a website and then you begin to see ads from that exact website? That is because Google utilizes what they call cookies or stored that data based on your search history so that advertisers could start to send you ads across several platforms based on what you have previously showed interest in. Although it is convenient for consumers to receive ads based on things that they have recently showed interest in, the bigger concern regarding this issue is that this practice feels intrusive to those receiving the ads.

  38. Recently one thing that people think of when they hear Facebook is data. People joined Facebook with the intent to connect with people they know/knew. Also, there were settings people could choose that would allow for people to set how public or private they wanted their profile to be. The previous settings gave people comfort, as it was up to them who could access their information. As Facebook evolved as a business many things changed. When adds were first introduced, it was fine as they were just random adds. When adds were being tailored to each user, is when people started to worry. How were these ads able to target someone if they were not friends? Facebook has been known to give data about their users to people who are willing to pay.
    Facebook is helping the people who advertise on their website, by giving them data about users. For example, if a makeup company wanted to target female users from ages 15 to 25. Facebook would send out the advertisement to all 15 to 25 females that was allotted for the amount the advertisers paid for. Now some may think great that is wonderful, it helps sellers get to buyers. While that is technically true, there are some women from ages to 15 to 25 who do not want to see ads for makeup. They also do not want makeup companies to have any information on them, including their name and age. I find it very creepy that companies I have no knowledge about, have my information and are able to contact me. Facebook is always watching over one’s shoulder. Seeing everything one does. There is no privacy with Facebook anymore. Not even for those who do not use.
    Facebook is not the only website that collects data and gives to people willing to pay. Other companies like Google, and even Pandora. It is scary to say that as technology grows so does the amount of data about oneself on the internet does. There are ways to limit the amount of data that a company like Facebook can get. One example includes going over all the permissions that an app/website ask for and denying the ones that can gain too much information. Instead of just clicking accept, it’s time to start paying attention to what one is really giving away.

  39. In this article, Chen explained what he discovered when he downloaded his Facebook data. Most Facebook users are aware that a post never goes away, but many were shocked to discover that Facebook has everyone’s contact list and general content. The most surprising news was Facebook sells users information to advertising companies. Chen learned that approximately 500 companies, many he has never heard of, had his contact information. Chen also realized that he could not delete certain pieces of data, such as his birthday and those he has chosen to unfriend. He also downloaded the information from Google and found that Google had obtained much more data compared to Facebook. Similarly, many people found these truths unsettling.
    Because of the volume of services and products available today, it is helpful for advertising companies and consumers if ads can be targeted to Facebook users. Many people fail to realize that Facebook is indirectly helping them by selling its users information to companies. All targeted advertisements are displayed to the people who may find them relevant. Therefore, those advertisements add value to Facebook users because they are aware of products and services that they may like based on data, such as search history, Facebook likes, and posts that Facebook has collected on each person. Thus, it is easier to purchase things that Facebook users find interesting.
    Although there are advertisements that appear down a timeline after a recent search history, it is also apart of making a profit. Facebook and Google are free for users because they sell people’s information to companies to use appropriately. Presently, this is the reality of how business is done in regards to technology. In a previous blog comment, Dean Spenzos said that through Facebook messenger, Facebook has all of his contacts whether he likes it or not. In reality, Facebook did not force anyone to share contact information. Under the terms and conditions, Facebook stated that they can use all of a person’s information that they receive, keywords from stories, name, profile picture, and information in connection with commercials, sponsors, or related content (Scherker). The unreasonable length of the terms and conditions is a separate topic, but Facebook technically asked for “permission” by presenting all of the information. For the people who did not want their information sold, they could have declined the terms and conditions and not use Facebook.

    Scherker, Amanda.“Didn’t Read Facebook’s Fine Print? Here’s Exactly What It Says” Huffington Post, 6 December 2017,

  40. The facebook data scandal was an affair that was all over the news earlier this year. I think the worst part of this scandal is the surprise factor. Everyone knew that facebook kept a lot of information, but no one realized just how much they retained. There is a whole different side of facebook that we, as users, were not aware of until the case and trial came about. The fact that there is a place that stores every last friend in the last 14 years seems a bit absurd. I would understand, in order to keep data for legal purposes, but there has to be a cutoff point and a purge time. For example, data is kept for 4 years after the action is done, and deleted after that point.

    While I do understand that people can overshare and put their entire lives on facebook, but some are private and simply go on facebook to “keep up with friends.” Many get upset that the internet tracks them, however in my opinion, phones, tablets, laptops, are just the surface of the internet that we know. There is a whole layer under the surface that many users do not get to see. It seems unfortunate, but I have come to accept this. I strongly believe in privacy, however I also have nothing to hide! So if my data is being kept for legal reasons, I would understand. When it comes to “keeping data just because they want to,” that is a concept I cannot wrap my head around. It just seems like a waste of storage and time.

    After hearing that there is a tool to take out information, I saw a glimpse of hope in this Facebook scandal. However, it seems like it does not work as well as Mr. Zuckerberg claims. It only allows you to take out some information, while other details are not permitted to be taken out. Because facebook is a free platform, I do understand why ads are necessary, and why specific information is retained to be able to provide relevant ads based on what you search. However, I think that there is a fine line between gaining information to market correctly and invading privacy. I can see this scandal affecting the amount of users that facebook has, however I do not think that this is the end of Facebook. It is such a large platform that it will take something enormous in order to fully shut it down.

  41. Facebook likes all other social media sites are known to share personal data to the world. Brian X. Chen explains throughout this article how Facebook retains more data than a person may think. After reading this, I learned so much on the amount of information that Facebook and other online sources retain on peoples personal life including there name number, birthdays, addresses, etc. Companies use these advertising advantages to see what consumers previously searched. They do this to linger the consumers into buying their products. I can relate to this on a personal level. Whenever I online shop on company websites, later on in the day, I will see ads of these products that I previously researched. I believe things like these are an invasion of privacy because this means they have a lot more of my information on these data files. Being a person who has a Facebook account, its concerning that even things that I delete do not actually get fully deleted.I think data investigations like these are important for people who try and get away with different crimes. This can help catch people before they commit certain crimes.
    I believe more people need to read this article so they are more aware of how our private life might no actually be private. Before posting or uploading things that they don’t want to be seen by the public, people need to be careful with what they post.

  42. I have had a Facebook since I was probably at the age of 12-13 years old. It was the first social media platform I had and I always knew to be careful because my parents and people around me told me to be cautious of what I post on the internet. It is now 2018, years later and I have come to realize how serious this is and how scary it is that so much of our data and personal property is compromised due to technology and social media. This article goes on to talk about Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive talking about data privacy and his responsibilities to users. He went on in his interview by repeatedly saying that Facebook has a tool for downloading your personal data that allows people to see and take out all the information they’ve put into Facebook. But the real concern here is we Facebook users don’t realize that facebook retains more data of our personal information than we think. You can delete information off of your profile or even better yet delete your entire Facebook, but they will still have all of that information you had over the years saved. Its personally scary how violated our personal lives are through the internet and technology. Even our phones become victimized and data held on our phones aren’t confidential either.
    The article goes on to discuss how Facebook holds on file every single detail as to exactly when you made your account or when you posted exact things or when you deactivated your Facebook. They even have a hold of all of your contacts list. Facebook also knows every time you signed on and which device and location you were at the time. I certainly feel unsettled and discomforted after reading how much Facebook can really violate and see so much of my personal life. I think the company either needs more private settings where we can have more privacy or people should really start to reconsider that Facebook isn’t even the main problem here. Facebook may be a platform gaining your information but so does google, google is even worse than facebook when it comes to privacy settings and personal violations.

  43. It is truly concerning the sheer amount of data that companies like Facebook are capable of possessing about each and every person who utilize their site. Not to mention how said data never really goes away either. After enough time, these big data companies are going to know more about the people they collect information on than the individual themselves.
    When Mark Zuckerberg was taking questions from Congress in regard to privacy issues related to Facebook, many people were not very convinced of his responses. In fact, people came to realize that things that were “deleted” were not so, from a permanent standpoint anyway. With this being said, anything that graces our screens at any moment has future implications on our lives. Moving forward, this type of information should be made more accessible from an individuals standpoint; I should not have to go out of my way in order to find the plethora of information that is stored about myself, and hopefully in due time, legislation will require companies to release this information on an easily accessible level so people have a full understanding of what exactly is being collected.

  44. Reading this article just confirmed for me the age-old idea that once something is posted on the internet, it will be there forever. To start off, I was not aware that there is a feature that allows Facebook users to download and access their own Facebook data. This is an interesting fact and makes me wonder how long this tool has been present, and why more people are not talking about it. I think I would be quite skeptical to access information of this sort solely due to the uncertainty of what I may find. I am not a stranger to the fact that social media companies often store and analyze user data on a regular basis; however, knowing now that there is a way to access all the data that is stored makes this concern all the more real for me.

    The amount of information the author of this article stated that he had found in his data file bewilders me. Some of the statistics I was expecting, such as the frequency in which the user opens Facebook, the location, and the ad companies that had the user’s information in their databases. However, most of the others completely shocked me. These include data about the user’s contact information, the exact dates in which the user deactivated and reactivated his account, as well as a list of “Removed Friends.” Although Facebook has brief explanations justifying why information of this sort is kept and stored, it is still concerning because these explanations seem unreasonable and a little exaggerated. There is no need for Facebook to remember who users have cut out of their lives, nor users’ full contact list. That is an invasion of privacy and is likely to make many users very uncomfortable.

    Even though some of the statistics did not surprise, it does not mean that this data being stored is justifiable. For example, the author’s Facebook data file revealed that a list of approximately 500 advertisers have his contact information, some brands that he hadn’t even heard of before. This number is very high, which causes concern for me. It is unjust for Facebook to use its users’ personal information and sell it to companies without proper notification. This is a problem with so many tech and social media companies. The internet is like a black hole that swallows any and all information it receives, unveiling it to the world so it can be used to the advantage of marketing agencies, social media companies, third-party providers, etc. I believe that if more people become aware of this data retrieval tool and they took the time to actually look through their data files, there would be more concern and uprise regarding what is ethical and what is not when storing users’ information. This will make this issue more real for consumers and users and hopefully result in stricter regulations for social media and tech companies.

  45. The internet has become the most powerful advertising tool in the world. The fact that the majority if not everything that is posted online stays somewhere online makes it incredibly valuable for companies to take advantage of the wealth of data. That is something that most people know and likely understand. Facebook storing hordes of this information and giving it out to 3rd party advertisers is not. As a company they tend to claim that all user information is this sacred thing that they would not dare give away to anyone. But throughout Facebook’s existence and increasingly so recently, it is proven that those claims are false.

    If a brand that i have never even heard of has my contact information that is a definite problem and its very alarming. That means that Facebook is literally giving information to whoever even somewhat needs it. Hundreds of companies with access to the public’s private information is unacceptable and unfortunately it feels like its too late to expect Facebook to actually do better. Ultimately, the only way anything will change is if Facebook’s profits get damaged by user backlash. Even so that is still unlikely to happen due to many people simply being unaware of the information that is spread out already.

  46. We’re always told to watch what we put and share online because what goes onto the internet is there forever. Some people are also aware that social media sites such as Facebook are taking all of the data that we put in, as well as the data from apps that we’ve allowed Facebook access to, and they are storing it, selling it, and using it for their own personal gain. When you really think about how much information they have on each of us, it’s pretty scary. This article is written by someone who had printed out their Facebook data, and was shocked at how many advertisers had their contact information, how Facebook kept and stored their entire contact list, and disturbingly, even the “buzzer to ring [their] apartment”. The weird thing about Facebook having all of this data, is that it doesn’t allow you to delete certain pieces of data. And if it does, it takes a while for the information to truly be “deleted”, and even then it’s probably still out there somewhere. What’s worse is that sites like Facebook are also connected to google and other sites. So all of your data and information from all of these platforms gets combined, ultimately to form an entire digital identity of you. This is very crazy to think about and the author of the article describes seeing all of the data Facebook had in her, as “you won’t be able to unsee it”, which must mean it’s incredibly shocking. Something else the author said that I think is alarming is that she’s not an avid user of Facebook and that she really doesn’t use it often. So think about the people that post every second of their lives to Facebook. Only word I have for it is that it’s scary to imagine. Knowing the internet has all kinds of data on me and my personal information, as well as all of my friends and family is crazy to think about.

  47. Social networking websites are becoming one of the primary forms of communication used by people of all ages and backgrounds. No doubt, we have seen numerous benefits from the impact of social media communication. However, there is one common fear among all social media users and that is if their privacy, or data is being violated on the web. In this article, the problem now, is that users are finally realizing that companies have been mining our data ever since we first made a Facebook! Though users can change their privacy settings to limit with whom their profile information is shared, Facebook gathers and stores more than most of us want to acknowledge. To begin with, 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. It doesn’t matter if he was a frequent user or not, the more time Facebook keeps users on the site, the more data it can collect on each user. This data is what brings advertisers to the platform, and ultimately what puts dollars in Facebook’s coffers. In fact, Facebook uses a number of software tools to do this tracking. When internet users venture to other sites, Facebook can still monitor what they are doing with software like its ubiquitous “Like” and “Share” buttons. In addition, despite people’s fear of privacy disclosures after the Facebook data scandal, users and investors alike don’t seem to mind Google harvesting their data. In the article, Chen points out that 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. Companies like Facebook and Google have been compiling information on their users for years on file. For this reason, Google is just as guilty as Facebook when it comes to allowing hyper targeted advertisements. Google, just like Facebook, collects a lot of personal data about its users. While many of us might have put that thought to the back of our minds, Chen reminded us of the true extent of these companies great data grab, with a simply click.

    Personally, I find this to be one of the craziest things about the modern age. It frightens me to know how much information Facebook and Google has gathered from me and other users. I am unsure if I want to see what Facebook or Google has collected on me after Chen pointed out at the end of his article.. it’s hard to unsee the invasion of privacy. We fail to realize that Facebook’s privacy policies reinforces the message that “you have control over who sees what you share on Facebook.” But if you use Facebook at all, you don’t have much control over what Facebook itself sees about you. This is very upsetting because Zuckerberg promised to take privacy concerns more seriously, ensured members of Congress that he was open to regulation, and pledged to do more to stop bad actors from abusing his platform. In a perfect world, if we all band together, and agree to kill these companies off.. our privacy among the web wouldn’t be so questionable. In my opinion, we’d be better off without them. I’d be better off without them. You’d be better off without them.

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