Everything else.. Facebook: How Data Collection Works

Facebook: How Data Collection Works

2019 Nov 26

In this first season, we focus on the social media apps we all use daily. Whether to check on some updates of your friend or just to pass time laughing at that meme or video. First episode is none other than Facebook, which is arguably the social media platform majority of the Sri Lankan internet users are part of. Looking at the numbers according to the statistics from NapoleanCat by October 2019 around 6,335,000 or roughly 30% of the entire Sri Lankan population have an account and regularly use Facebook. Whether you use the Web version or the mobile version through facebook app ( which makes it much more easy to collect data about you ) there are a number of Terms and Conditions or Terms of Service as they call it that is applicable, which gives Facebook Inc. permission to collect various kinds of data about you.


Let’s reveal!

As per the latest version of Facebook Terms and Conditions[2], the amount and the type of Data that is collected depends on how we use the Facebook products, these are some of the main Data types they collect

  • Content, communications and other information that you provide when you use Facebook’s products along with the information you provide at sign up
  • Can contain “create or share content and message or communicate with others” and metadata such as Location as well
  • Collect contact information if we “…choose to upload, sync or import it from a device (such as an address book or call log or SMS log history)”
  • All the activities such as scrolling down, mouse movements are monitored when we are on the site to analyze and learn our behaviour.

If you are a person who buys things on Facebook, below are some of the facts that you really want to know ;

  • “includes payment information, such as your credit or debit card number and other card information
  • other account and authentication information
  • and billing, delivery and contact details.

They collect this information and data not only from computers and Mobile devices but also from connected TVs and other web-connected devices as well. Which includes all the personal assistant enabled speakers such as Google Home, Alexa, etc.

Did you know that partners companies of Facebook provide information about our activities Off Facebook also! So even if you log out from the site or app, when you use the internet you data will be connected by various companies and they will send them to Facebook.


Some of the information they collect are the following :

  • What is the device we are using
  • Websites we visit
  • Purchases we make and
  • Ads we see

Even if you think that if we don’t have a Facebook account or logged out of it, still some of your data will be with Facebook, those they get through various APIs (the process where the websites communicate with servers ). These can be from certain online games we play, purchases we make. Therefore it can be seen that technically both online and offline actions we make is monitored through Facebook and their partners.

As per the statement, they collect these data “… To create personalised Products that are unique and relevant to you, we use your connections, preferences, interests and activities based on the data that we collect and learn from you and others (including any data with special protections you choose to provide) “  

So as you can see, they pretty much know not only about the 2.45 billion monthly active users on Facebook as of September 30, 2019[3] but also about a population that don’t even have an account in Facebook or in any other family app.

The statement further says that they can share or provide access to public information of users to anyone on or off Facebook products. And that they don’t sell our data but they just provide aggregated data where data can not be separated into individual users.

Now you know what kind of data Facebook has about you, and the massive size of the company and its product family have made it hard to protect our data from them. Because they have accumulated enough power even to collect data from third parties and again share it with third parties as the cost of providing a space to “Scroll Down” forever, looking at all the positive, and negative content that they want us to see.

Coming up in the next episode, Instagram. World’s most famous photo-sharing app!


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