Looking inside Facebook’s ‘Pandora Box’

May 18, 2018
by Mark Ollig

I was amazed to learn the amount of data Facebook has about me, and with whom they share this information.

To say your humble columnist was “surprised” by the amount of data accumulated would be an understatement.

Facebook knows a lot about me – more than I realized.

I reviewed specific information about me Facebook has collected, stored, and shared.

Under Facebook’s General Account Settings, a link named Download a Copy can be clicked to view some of your Facebook information.

Personal information can be seen in 25 categories Facebook tracks.

Here are 10 of them:

• Posts you’ve shared;

• Photos uploaded and shared;

• Videos uploaded and shared;

• Comments made on your own and others’ postings;

• Likes and emoticon reactions to others’ comments;

• Advertisers who have collected information from you;

• Profile information;

• Friends you connect with;

• Messages exchanged with others using Messenger,

• Information on networks used to access Facebook.

Within the Download a Copy setting, we can view our Facebook information without actually downloading it.

To see your information, first, log into your Facebook account. Then go to this link: https://www.facebook.com/your_information. The link takes you to the “Access Your Information” page.

There, you can select and view the contents of any information category which has collected your Facebook information.

There are 23 categories under the Access Your Information page, with each group containing subcategories.

Under the Information About You category, I clicked the arrow next to the Location History.

Location History is what it says. A physical map displays the locations from the computer or smartdevice where I accessed Facebook; including the name of the city.

Neatly displayed on the left side of my computer screen was every city where I have used Facebook since Sept. 24, 2017.

The Location History map is sprinkled with red dots across the Minneapolis metropolitan area and western Minnesota, representing my Facebook location history.

Our location is being tracked while using Facebook on our computer, or on our smartphone’s app.

This location history file is supposedly private; I noted there is an option to delete its contents.

You can also turn off/deactivate the Location History in the Location Settings.

When Location History is turned off, Facebook will stop adding new information to the Location History file.

Facebook had also saved a two-year file log which recorded not only when I’ve used the service, but from which particular device and web browser.

Facebook also tracked my advertiser’s preferences and listed the ads I had clicked on for more information.

Those advertisers (and others who think I might be interested in their product or service) would send me ads while I was using Facebook.

Facebook can distribute my ad preference information to third parties directly, or through apps on my smartphone.

The Ad Settings Screen allows me to select and hide pop-up ads from advertisers who target me.

To download a copy of your Facebook information, go to Facebook’s homepage top banner, click the question mark. Beneath the question mark, click Help Center; Managing Your Account, and then click the Accessing and Downloading Your Information link.

Under Tools & Resources, you can download a copy of your Facebook information, or view the information online from your computer.

To see your Facebook information from your computer, go to the top right of the Facebook homepage and click the upside-down triangle. Click Settings, and then click Your Facebook Information.

There, you will see various information subjects; click one to learn more.

The privacy of user’s data is a question asked of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his recent visit before the US Congress.

Zuckerberg revealed a Facebook tool which “allows people to see and take out all the information they’ve put into Facebook.”

Here is a shortened web link to the Facebook tool Zuckerberg mentioned: https://bit.ly/1sLMxh8.

Explore the options for safeguarding and controlling your data, deactivating, or even deleting your Facebook account.

My data has, and continues to be, collected, organized, and filed under many categories inside Facebook’s Pandora Box.

Should I be concerned about this? Stay tuned.

Visit my weblog at https://bitscolumn.blogspot.com.

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