In-Depth: Facebook Data Privacy & Social Media Data Mining

What Businesses and Consumers Should Know for Their Protection (and Gain)

Facebook’s ability to see your personal data has been a big deal in the news ever since Cambridge Analytica was singled out as abusing this data for coordinated political advertising.

As a result of the investigation on April 4, 2018, Facebook shared a draft of their updated data policy.

Some things that were addressed in the release may be news to users. Did you know that when a user clicks the LIKE button on a business Facebook page, that business can then gain access to that user’s personal profile?

Depending on the user’s privacy settings the company can see very little or absolutely everything. For many casual social media users, this has been concerning because most rarely have taken a look at the fine print in the privacy agreement or even their own privacy settings.

It’s easy to see what data they can see and many people forget what’s even been on their Facebook profile over the years.

You can download your own data quite easily. Here are the steps involved (this is also good if you want a backup of old pictures you’ve shared)

  1. Log in to Facebook and go to the top right corner and click the drop down arrow;
  2. Click Settings;
  3. Click Your Facebook Information;
  4. Go to Download Your Informationand click View;
  5. Select your options then click Create File.

You’ll then be sent a link to your email that allows you to download all your profile data. You can see every conversation, image and more!

To date, Facebook has 98 personal data points within your profile that allows companies to target their advertising towards you.

Facebook Ad Targeting

Facebook uses this information for targeting so they ensure users see ads that are relevant and interesting to them based on their profile information. We at eVision Media use this data all of the time when creating ads for our clients who want to get the right message in front of the right people.

Here are just a few of the targeting options Facebook advertisers have using your information:

  1. Geographic location
  2. Age
  3. Sex
  4. Main Language spoken
  5. Last completed level of education
  6. School or college you attended
  7. Race
  8. Income and net worth
  9. Homeownership and type
  10. Estimated value of your home
  11. Property size
  12. Square footage of the home
  13. Year home was built
  14. Household size
  15. And countless others….

What Advertisers Can Glean from this Data

Let’s look at the other types of data companies can derive based on your Facebook Profile. There is a lot to go through so we’re just going to look at the more basic ones.

  1. Information on your personal interests. They can see all the groups you are a member of. This reveals a lot about you. In April, Facebook made several changes to the API that allows third-party app access, including limiting access to Groups and excluding the guest list from the Events API.
  2. The contact information on your personal profile can include your email address, phone number, and full name.
  3. A permanent record of who you have deleted from your Facebook group. When you delete something from Facebook it won’t be publicly visible but that doesn’t mean the information just goes away. Facebook retains that data even though it’s not outwardly visible anywhere on their platform.
  4. Facebook records exactly when you signed up for Facebook and every time you log in.
  5. Facebook Advertisers have access to all information about you. This allows them to target ads based on your interests, age, geographic location, behaviours and more that allow them to serve up ads to you that are a match based on your preferences.
  6. Data is collected about what ads you click on, what device you use, and the type of internet connection you use. They know every page and post you Like and Share.
  7. Facebook tracks birthdays, anniversaries, marriages and other significant milestones you celebrate.
  8. Employment information. If you enter this into Facebook then it will be stored and associated with your profile.

For anyone interested, this article has the full list of 98 pieces of data Facebook has for every user’s profile.

The Truth About Your Data Privacy

If you are concerned about your privacy settings on Facebook, you can adjust your settings to limit shared data and view which third-party apps have been authorized. Facebook offers instructions on how to adjust those settings for any user concerned about the privacy of their data.

Should you be concerned? Not really.

This was all blown up from the start because Cambridge Analytica was singled out and the reasoning was entirely political.

The truth is (and this is something anyone working in SEO and social media already knew) everyone from political parties to clothing manufacturers to maybe even your own business has been using user data for targeted advertising.

It’s what has kept Facebook free and Facebook is far from alone. Data is being collected on everyone, everywhere! Whenever you use a loyalty card, gift card or even a credit card etc., data is being stored and used for targeted advertising and more. What Facebook and every other social media channel and app that you’re using on your smartphone is doing is standard procedure.

Embracing Social Media Data Mining

Instead of being overly concerned and shutting down your social media profiles, we suggest you embrace the opportunities this data provides to you as a business owner.

If you’re interested in upgrading your own advertising, eVision Media has been using Facebook to help target users for a long time.

When Facebook was first released it was entirely free and free from ads but was invitation only. And seeing how it’s changed and grown as the entire industry has, makes it a lot less scary and a lot more fun.