4 Things You Didn’t Know Facebook Knew About You

Many video cameras all focus on a male manequin in a suit

Many video cameras all focus on a male manequin in a suitYour Facebook profile may know you better than your spouse does. Digital Trends recently published a how-to guide for users who want to view the personal information Facebook has stored in its personal data archive. We were amazed to discover some of the details Facebook stores about each user.


People You Creep

We all creep on Facebook. You may think you’re sneaky because you never actually click anything on your crush’s profile, and because you don’t leave a trail of Likes and comments. But Facebook still knows all. The site keeps a record of everything you type into the search bar, meaning it knows how often you enter the name of your high school nemesis or your ex-girlfriend.


What You Look Like

Facebook knows what you look like. You have no reason to be surprised by this. After all, who gave Facebook all those pictures of you? Facebook hasn’t been hiding the fact that it can recognize your face: automatic tagging is a feature you can opt into, and it’s a straight-up admission on Facebook’s part that it can tell your face from all other faces in the world. The automatic tagging is a useful feature, though, so we don’t blame you for being in denial that Facebook can spot your face anywhere.


Your Credit Card Information

You may have saved yourself from this one. The site stores your credit card information, but only if you hand it over. If you didn’t buy Farmville extension packs or make other in-app purchases, you’re in the clear… Assuming you didn’t buy any of the gift cards Facebook hawks every time your friend has a birthday. But if Facebook has your credit card information, we have no sympathy: if you’re giving Facebook money, you’re doing it wrong.


Your Susceptibility to Advertising

When an ad is delivered to you on Facebook, it’s been chosen for you based on how you’ve used Facebook in the past. Facebook has a list of ad topics it thinks you’re susceptible to based on a record it keeps of every ad you’ve clicked on and when you clicked on it. That list of topics probably reveals a good deal about your interests.

Though we whine that Facebook knows too much, we ourselves are, in fact, the ones handing that information over. Since many of us are used to communication tools that don’t record every detail of our lives – the post office, for example, doesn’t keep a record of the letters we send – it’s easy for us to forget how easy we’ve made it for Facebook to come to know us. It’s a problem, but you’re not going to quit Facebook… Are you?
Image via Ludovic Bertron

Leora Rosenberg

By Leora Rosenberg

Leora writes about the environment, science, and the intersection between technology and art. She attends New York University and has previously written for the Wildlife Conservation Society's website, The Huffington Post's Compylr blog, and NYU's Washington Square News. Her mom uses Twitter incorrectly.

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