Facebook can be a wonderful thing. It allows you to connect with people that you haven’t seen in twenty years, keep up with family who live in other states in a photo-driven way that phone calls can’t provide, share cat memes with everyone you know, even those who hate cats.
But Facebook isn’t all nice and harmless. You wouldn’t believe the information that they track about you, and this raises serious concerns for both our privacy and our children’s privacy.
For example, did you know that Facebook never deletes any information that it gathers about you. Never. An article by The Free Thought Project provides some details:
Quite simply, Facebook never deletes anything. Unfriended friends, past relationships, former employers, previous names, address book: you name it.
The article continues:
Whenever you post a photo to Facebook, it keeps a record of all the data that’s attached to it. That seems quite obvious but I didn’t suspect it was so detailed. Have a look:
Camera Maker, Model, Orientation, Exposure, F-Stop, ISO Speed, Focal Length, Latitude, Longitude & Upload IP Address
Now, you may think that this is no big deal. After all, what is Facebook going to do with all of that information? Advertise to you? And that’s exactly what Facebook would say they are doing (to be fair, that’s probably all that they are doing.), but it’s the information that Facebook shares that makes all this dangerous. Again, from the article from The Free Thought Project:
The thing is, Facebook’s been purposely mysterious about what type of information they share with third parties. Despite numerous requests by users throughout the world, their response is systematically:
Advertisers do not give Facebook any users’ contact details. We only get such details in hashed form and they are, in any event, deleted within 48 hours. We are therefore not able to confirm what contact information an advertiser has for a particular user.
But looking at Facebook Business platform provides some details about what info is used in custom audiences targeting:
email, phone number, first name, last name, city, state, country, date of birth, age & gender.
Oh, and Facebook claims that “its image recognition models could recognise human faces with 98% accuracy & that it could identify a person in one picture out of 800 million in less than five seconds.”
Here’s the issue: advertisers don’t so much concern me. Advertisers advertise to market to me so that they can make money. If they’re smart, they are only advertising to me if they think they have something that I will want to buy. No, the issue is that, with all of that information gathered, who else is getting access to it? Maybe you trust the current administration in Washington to not abuse this information, but what about the next administration? And what about all of the unelected government bureaucrats who have no incentive to not use and abuse your data for their own purposes?
Frankly, with the privacy violations of the NSA and the Patriot Act-type legislation, all of this information is simply dangerous to have in one place for a government (or hacker) to take and exploit. And, believe me, it will happen at some point.
So, for this reason, while you may never be able to get your information erased from Facebook’s records, you may want to consider deleting your account to ensure that they don’t get any more information about you.