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10 Ways How Facebook Uses Your Personal Data

Filed under Social Media

Facebook has turned 11 years old this year. With the massive growth in users over the decade it has also generated massive revenue. Being the most used social media platform, Facebook has frustrated its users massively on a large scale with its devious privacy policies and unwelcomed surprises present in its terms of services.


The company tries to walk in a difficult situation, between offering the users proper private space in communicating with their friends and this way feed the user data to businesses for using them to serve effective ads. Many times this balance has tipped in the favor of the business. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also charged the company with frequent privacy audits for 20 years as it deceived the consumers with its privacy promises.

Here are 10 ways how Facebook has been using your personal data. All this using of your personal data is related to Facebook policies and these things will really surprise you, so brace yourself.

1. Facebook Gets to Keep Your Data Forever

Facebook gets to keep your details even if you leave it forever. Previously Facebook didn’t have an account deleting option; it only had the option to deactivate the account. The only way to delete yourself was by removing every single post and content that your ever posted by hand and then send an email to Facebook requesting for an account deletion, for which you need to make an attempt several times.


However, in 2010 Facebook added an account deletion option, but there were controversies over it as Facebook changed its policies in 2009 removing a clause in which it was mentioned that company cannot use your data even if you deleted the account. Facebook debated that the point was misunderstood by people as this action was necessary to keep your conversation messages available to the other person or the comments that were posted by you, so Facebook reverted to its old terms and vowed that any further changes in policies will be based on users votes.

2. Facebook Shows Your Friends What You Buy

Another controversial way Facebook attempted to use your data was when they introduced an ad platform titled Beacon, companies like Fandango and Travelocity could actually post things on users news feed showing that they have purchased products from their website. However, Facebook added an opt-out option but it was too difficult for the users to find it. The program had to be stopped and Facebook had to bear $9.5 million lawsuit, Mark Zuckerberg called Beacon a big time mistake. The concept of Beacon is still present in the form of Facebook Connect, but in a more transparent manner, where users can connect into different websites simply using their FB accounts.

3. Facebook Tracks Your Activities All Across the Web

Facebook also gets to keep tracking your movements on different websites for 90 days even if you are logged into the service or not. Facebook uses cookies to check in data like time, URL, IP address and date whenever you visit a website that has a Facebook plugin like the “Like Button”; this means every website you visit gets your data reaching Facebook as almost every website has Facebook plugin.

4. Using Your “Likes” for Ads Promotion


Facebook also got in lawful trouble when it started its sponsored story ad pattern in 2011; the social media got the authority to use the names and photos of its members in different products ads, for which these users were not being compensated. This had some strange and hilarious consequences like when a guy got to accidentally become a spokesperson for a 55-gallon barrel of lubricant. This led to anger people and then filed a lawsuit against Facebook for which they had to pay $20 million charges in order to settle this and fought the Sponsored story ad.

5. Forcing to Make Your Data Traceable

People can easily find other friends and family members on Facebook, but Facebook recently has removed the feature that allowed the users to remove themselves from being shown in the search results. Over the past years Facebook has gradually increase the amount of user data which can be viewed publicly, currently your profile picture, cover photo, gender, username and networks is all public information.

6. Facebook Uses Facial Recognition Software to Find You


Its facial recognition software DeepFace is 97.52% accurate. Human accuracy is 97.53%. It has access to over 250 billion photos and can create 3Dmodels of user’s faces.

7. Facebook Keeps a Track on What You Watch and Listen

Facebook gets to keep a watch on what you are listening to and watching, with this feature Facebook gets to use your phone’s or laptops microphone to identify the sounds in your background.

8. Search for NearBy Friends Feature


The optional Facebook feature “Near By Friends” uses your phone to target your exact location. In this feature users are being encouraged to share their location point without even knowing that who is looking for them.

9. Facebook App for Phone Allows You to Sync Contacts

The Facebook app allows you to sync your phone contacts with Facebook. This allows them to store your private contact numbers on Facebook’s servers.

10. Facebook Hashtags Can Tell a lot About You

Facebook can figure out a lot of things about you, in fact it can also figure out when you are pregnant. Their ad tool applies hashtags to your status, with terms such as “morning sickness” and then serves ads against it.

So these were some interesting facts about how Facebook tracks you and your every move on the web and in the real world. This social media tycoon is so big that you cannot hide from it but you should at least know these facts about how it uses your personal data so that you can be careful with its usage.

Guest Author: Adam Thompson

As Product Marketing Manager, Adam drives product-focused communications for WestendITStore. He is actively involved in product strategy and specializes in articulating technical concepts in the form of creative, value-based messages.

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