With an increased awareness about personal privacy, social media platforms are becoming more transparent about their ways of collecting your data and dealing with it. It is no secret that Facebook collects a lot of data about its users. But how much do they actually know about you? And more importantly, how are they using this knowledge?
The what and the how
All social media platforms are collecting data about you. Once you create an account on Facebook, you provide information about your name, age, gender – sometimes your occupation or location. That’s already more than you would tell to a stranger. Notably, after that, whether you check the weather forecast on your phone or like your favorite sports shop page – all the clicks you make create a traceable path of data that Facebook collects and processes.
Not only does Facebook record your activity on the platform – if you stay logged in and browse websites that use Facebook for advertising (potentially, around 100 million) – Facebook will also know this.
By processing all this data, social media platforms are able to build up a surprisingly-detailed consumer profile. It can contain great amount of private information about your religion, race, income, consumer behavior, your interest in sci-fi movies and vintage cars, pet insurance or buying patterns.
Is your data being misused?
Despite common fears, large social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram do not sell your private data to any external companies. Rather, they sell access to your feed. In this case, all data that Facebook collects allows advertisers to divide people in groups that meet certain specifications for targeting. Based on that, Facebook puts the most relevant ads to your feed.
Facebook already knows a lot about you. What can you do?
You can join the #deletefacebook movement and delete your account from social media together with all data that was collected throughout its existence. After that it will keep your data for 90 days before erasing it completely. As for a less radical solution, you can always revise your privacy settings. That way Facebook will still collect your data, but advertisers won’t be able to use it for targeting purposes.
A few months ago you wouldn’t be able to do much about websites collecting your data. Now, thanks to the GDPR, you have more control over your privacy and can opt out of cookies every time you visit a website.