Facebook Data Gathering: Should You Delete Your Account?

The business of getting up in your business

Facebook logo in wake of data gathering scandal with Cambridge Analytica | Varay, El PasoAs Facebook faces questions about the ethics, tactics, and policies it uses to pay the bills, many users are left feeling a little naked.

Though none of the recent concerns about Facebook’s data gathering and use of AI to profile users is really new, we feel it’s important to take the opportunity to explore what using social media really means, and whether you want to stay on board or sign off for good.

We put together a list of facts to help you make sense of what Facebook does with your data, so you can make an informed decision about using the website.

Fact #1: Facebook isn’t really free

They are a marketing company, first and foremost. They run a hugely successful business that goes far beyond the ads you see in your feed.

Facebook scandal warrants surprised emoji | Varay, El PasoAs we’re seeing with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, even if the stated norm is for Facebook to simply match certain advertisers and users based on user data, there are instances where that data is “scraped” and lands directly in the hands of third-party organizations.

So as great as it is to sign in and catch up with your friends and family, it’s helpful to go in with the understanding that the “free” connecting service they provide to you is worth about $13.50 a quarter per person to them. By partaking in their networking/time-killing service, you’re making them money as you interact and get data-profiled and sold on their site.

It’s not personal. It’s strictly business. And armed with that perspective you can decide the service they’re providing you with is worth the price you’re paying as you let them profile you with each “like” and click.

Fact #2: You can find what data Facebook has gathered about you

There are two areas you may want to check out:

  1. Was your data used by Cambridge Analytica?
  2. What does Facebook know about you?

If you follow these tutorials you can get a pretty good idea of what Facebook data gathering has gleaned (from information you volunteer), and what they’ve surmised about you from your clicks, comments, and possibly even extra-Facebook web activity gathered via controversial technology known as invisible pixels.

Fun note on invisible pixels: They have been used to gather data on people who don’t use Facebook. So Facebook probably has some of your personal information even if you don’t use their service.

Fact #3: Facebook isn’t the only one collecting your data

Binary code saying Facebook and Google are watching you | Varay, El PasoAnother “free” service we all enjoy is Google. But, once again, it’s time we all start viewing it as a business that offers a valuable service. The terms of using that service include consent to let them keep record of your every move and build a profile of you to match up with paying advertisers.

Any time you enter personal information on a form online, you’re trusting the website to protect your name, address, etc.

For a creepy idea of what that looks like, visit spokeo.com. Once you find your profile, you can copy the URL and enter it on their opt-out page to remove it. But the data came from somewhere, so it’s still available on the original source(s).

There is good news, though: at least your microwave isn’t listening to you.

Should I stay or should I go?

Our president and CEO Patrick Holland says he isn’t surprised by any of Facebook’s data-gathering techniques. “Am I going to delete my Facebook account? No. I use it to connect with friends and family. I understand going in the way they collect and use my data, and that their goal is marketing,” says Patrick.

So do the benefits of networking and connecting on social media outweigh the risks of giving away personal data and opening yourself up to targeted ads and posts? That’s something you have to ponder for yourself.

Since we’re on the subject of networking, you may be pleased to learn LinkedIn gathers virtually no data when you use their networking site.

If you’re comfortable using Facebook, we recommend working through the “settings” menu and verifying that your privacy, ad, and app settings are to your liking.

If you choose to deactivate or delete your Facebook account, here’s a helpful guide.

Want to limit the data Facebook can gather from you?

Stay tuned for our next post to get practical tools to help you keep your personal information under your control.

If you want to learn more about securing your personal or organizational data, Varay has the experience and integrity to guide you to safe practices and secure solutions.

Contact us today to set up a free visit to determine your IT score and find out more about keeping your private information out of the wrong hands.