We may pay a little more attention now that we know a researcher collected and used data from 50 million Facebook users. We may also hesitate to fill out any more of those online personality quizzes, which is apparently how the researcher harvested the data.
If you’d like to see some of the info Facebook has on you, download your Facebook data. Journalist Arwa Mahdawi writes that requesting hers “proved a wakeup call about what other intel the company had on me.”
After reading her amusing/alarming account, I downloaded mine, too. As she says, it’s easy. Go to Settings (just above the logout link) > Download a copy of your Facebook date (the last line under General Account Settings).
Here’s some of what I found out Facebook knows (or thinks it knows) about me:
- My friend peer group is Established Adult Life (the only other is apparently Starting Adult Life, so they got that right).
- My first FB friends were Kalene, Donna and Colette on Dec. 30, 2007. Some of my main ladies!
- I have declined eight friend requests, all from people I didn’t know.
- I have had 230 direct exchanges with people.
- FB knows I like Dancing with the Stars and Downton Abbey, the Arkells and Van Morrison, Bird by Bird and Calvin and Hobbes comics. And much more, of course.
- FB thinks I like horror movies, action games and electronic music. I do not.
- I try not to click on ads, but apparently I’ve clicked on 14.
- Sixteen advertisers have my contact info, and nine are related to music.
By the way, if you go into your settings, click on Ads. You can see what Facebook thinks you are interested in, and update them by clicking on the X in the corner of an image to say you aren’t. So long, horror movies.
It’s an interesting experience, and like Arwa, I recommend it. The files aren’t exactly tidy but the volume of info certainly is eye-opening.
As Arwa says, “While we are all aware our online interactions leave a digital footprint, it is easy to forget how expansive that footprint is. Seeing your digital life organised into folders is something of a wakeup call, particularly when you realise the data Facebook lets you download is just the tip of the iceberg of what it knows about you.”
How to change your settings to opt out of platform API sharing