Facebook data collection: It knows everything about us
In the digital age, our lives are increasingly intertwined with the online platforms we use every day. Two of the tech giants, Facebook and Google, seem to have a deep understanding of who we are and what we do online.
Cambridge Analytica and Privacy Disclosure
Some time ago, a scandal shook the world of social media. Cambridge Analytica, a company related to SCL, was at the center of a privacy scandal that went viral. This company was revealed to have been involved in rigging democratic elections around the world, including Brexit in the United Kingdom and the election of Donald Trump in the United States.
Although this is not directly related to the question of whether Facebook listens to our conversations, it sheds light on the extensive data collection that these platforms carry out.
The Mystery of Facebook Data Collection
One of the most disconcerting aspects of Facebook's data collection is the way it obtains information about us, even when we're not using the app. It's not just about what we share on our timeline, but how Facebook tracks our movements across the web.
For example, every time we visit an article, news item or forum that has Facebook "Like" or "Share" buttons, the platform obtains all the traffic data from that site and stores it, identifying who we are.
This means that Facebook tracks our online behavior, even outside of its main platform.
Facebook Analytics and the Power of Demographic Data
In addition to direct data collection, Facebook launched its own analytics tool called Facebook Analytics. This tool allows websites to compare visitor data with people's profiles on Facebook, providing more accurate demographic data.
This means that Facebook can create detailed profiles of users based on their online behavior, which in turn is used to target ads more effectively.
Mark Zuckerberg's Revelation: "We Sell Ads"
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, uttered a phrase that shook many: "Senator, we sell ads." This confirmed what was already known: Facebook sells advertising.
But behind this claim lies a machinery of specialized artificial intelligence algorithms that track everything we do online and how we do it. Even when we read an article or interact on a blog, if we see a comment system linked to Facebook, the platform is observing our behavior.
Off-Platform Data Collection
Facebook does not limit itself to collecting data within its platform. It uses multiple techniques to identify us and create profiles, whether it is a real profile connected to our account or a fake profile that they call a "shadow profile". This data collection is done through various sources:
- Login data and cookies from websites we visit.
- Geolocation information through Wi-Fi antennas and nearby networks.
- Identification of nearby Bluetooth devices.
- Phone number provided when using Facebook Messenger.
- IMEI of the mobile device.
The Connection between Facebook and the Messenger Application
One of the most valuable data that Facebook obtains is through the Messenger app.
By syncing our contacts and text messages, Facebook gains deep insight into our personal relationships, the calls we make and receive, their duration, and more details. This has a direct impact on what we see in our news feed and on other platforms in the Facebook family, such as Instagram and WhatsApp.
How Does Facebook Use This Data?
Mass data collection is not limited to Facebook. Google also plays an important role in this field, with tools like Google Maps and the extensive history of search.
Both companies use artificial intelligence algorithms to better understand who we are and what interests us. This knowledge translates into targeted advertising and personalized content.
The Impact on Society
The amount of data these companies have on us raises ethical and privacy questions.
Additionally, using algorithms to understand our personal interests and relationships can influence how we perceive information online. The spread of fake news and the manipulation of public opinion are real concerns.
While it is difficult to completely prevent data collection, there are steps we can take to protect our privacy online. Some of them include:
- Using a virtual private network (VPN) to hide our location.
- Migration of messaging applications to more secure platforms, such as Telegram.
- Uninstalling the Facebook app and using extensions like Firefox Facebook Container to limit data collection.
- Basic computer security education.
The Future of Online Privacy
The European Union has set an important precedent with its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which seeks to protect the privacy of citizens online.
As other countries consider implementing similar regulations, online privacy becomes a crucial issue in the digital age.
Facebook and Google have an amazing understanding of who we are and how we navigate online.
Data collection is a fundamental part of your business model, and it is important that users are aware of how their data is used. Taking steps to protect our privacy online is essential in an increasingly digitized world. Online privacy is not a topic that should be taken lightly, as it directly affects our autonomy and security online.
Written by Moises Hamui Abadi : I am an entrepreneur, founding partner of Viceversa and SoyMacho. After leading several digital businesses and advising several other businesses; I decided to form MHA Consulting, a digital marketing consultancy dedicated to growing and enhancing digital businesses in more than 7 countries and generating more than 1,500 million pesos.