Why Privacy Matters

Privacy is crucial even if you have nothing to hide! Check out this TED talk about why privacy matters:


What Does Facebook Know About You?

We all know that Facebook stores our Photos, Status Messages, Liked Pages, Chat Messages etc.

But, do you know that it also saves a list of all the Searches you’ve made? Do you know that they store data that can be used to recognize you in any photo? Facebook also maintains the IP addresses of all your devices! They have a list of all the ads clicked on. And they scrap off metadata from your photos, and save that too!

Here are some more details on the data that Facebook saves:

What info is stored? What is it?
About Me Information you added to the About section of your Timeline like relationships, work, education, where you live and more. It includes any updates or changes you made in the past and what is currently in the About section of your Timeline.
Account Status History The dates when your account was reactivated, deactivated, disabled or deleted.
Active Sessions All stored active sessions, including date, time, device, IP address, machine cookie and browser information.
Ads Clicked Dates, times and titles of ads clicked (limited retention period).
Address Your current address or any past addresses you had on your account.
Ad Topics A list of topics that you may be targeted against based on your stated likes, interests and other data you put in your Timeline.
Alternate Name Any alternate names you have on your account (ex: a maiden name or a nickname).
Apps All of the apps you have added.
Birthday Visibility How your birthday appears on your Timeline.
Chat A history of the conversations you’ve had on Facebook Chat (a complete history is available directly from your messages inbox).
Check-ins The places you’ve checked into.
Connections The people who have liked your Page or Place, RSVPed to your event, installed your app or checked in to your advertised place within 24 hours of viewing or clicking on an ad or Sponsored Story.
Credit Cards If you make purchases on Facebook (ex: in apps) and have given Facebook your credit card number.
Currency Your preferred currency on Facebook. If you use Facebook Payments, this will be used to display prices and charge your credit cards.
Current City The city you added to the About section of your Timeline.
Date of Birth The date you added to Birthday in the About section of your Timeline.
Deleted Friends People you’ve removed as friends.
Education Any information you added to Education field in the About section of your Timeline.
Emails Email addresses added to your account (even those you may have removed).
Events Events you’ve joined or been invited to.
Facial Recognition Data A unique number based on a comparison of the photos you’re tagged in. We use this data to help others tag you in photos.
Family Friends you’ve indicated are family members.
Favorite Quotes Information you’ve added to the Favorite Quotes section of the About section of your Timeline.
Followers A list of people who follow you.
Following A list of people you follow.
Friend Requests Pending sent and received friend requests.
Friends A list of your friends.
Gender The gender you added to the About section of your Timeline.
Groups A list of groups you belong to on Facebook.
Hidden from News Feed Any friends, apps or pages you’ve hidden from your News Feed.
Hometown The place you added to hometown in theAbout section of your Timeline.
IP Addresses A list of IP addresses where you’ve logged into your Facebook account (won’t include all historical IP addresses as they are deleted according to a retention schedule).
Last Location The last location associated with an update.
Likes on Others’ Posts Posts, photos or other content you’ve liked.
Likes on Your Posts from others Likes on your own posts, photos or other content.
Likes on Other Sites Likes you’ve made on sites off of Facebook.
Linked Accounts A list of the accounts you’ve linked to your Facebook account
Locale The language you’ve selected to use Facebook in.
Logins IP address, date and time associated with logins to your Facebook account.
Logouts IP address, date and time associated with logouts from your Facebook account.
Messages Messages you’ve sent and received on Facebook. Note, if you’ve deleted a message it won’t be included in your download as it has been deleted from your account.
Name The name on your Facebook account.
Name Changes Any changes you’ve made to the original name you used when you signed up for Facebook.
Networks Networks (affiliations with schools or workplaces) that you belong to on Facebook.
Notes Any notes you’ve written and published to your account.
Notification Settings A list of all your notification preferences and whether you have email and text enabled or disabled for each.
Pages You Admin A list of pages you admin.
Pending Friend Requests Pending sent and received friend requests.
Phone Numbers Mobile phone numbers you’ve added to your account, including verified mobile numbers you’ve added for security purposes.
Photos Photos you’ve uploaded to your account.
Photos Metadata Any metadata that is transmitted with your uploaded photos.
Physical Tokens Badges you’ve added to your account.
Pokes A list of who’s poked you and who you’ve poked. Poke content from our mobile poke app is not included because it’s only available for a brief period of time. After the recipient has viewed the content it’s permanently deleted from our systems.
Political Views Any information you added to Political Views in the About section of Timeline.
Posts by You Anything you posted to your own Timeline, like photos, videos and status updates.
Posts by Others Anything posted to your Timeline by someone else, like wall posts or links shared on your Timeline by friends.
Posts to Others Anything you posted to someone else’s Timeline, like photos, videos and status updates.
Privacy Settings Your privacy settings.
Recent Activities Actions you’ve taken and interactions you’ve recently had.
Registration Date The date you joined Facebook.
Religious Views The current information you added to Religious Views in the About section of your Timeline.
Removed Friends People you’ve removed as friends.
Screen Names The screen names you’ve added to your account, and the service they’re associated with. You can also see if they’re hidden or visible on your account.
Searches Searches you’ve made on Facebook.
Shares Content (ex: a news article) you’ve shared with others on Facebook using the Share button or link.
Spoken Languages The languages you added to Spoken Languages in the About section of your Timeline.
Status Updates Any status updates you’ve posted.
Work Any current information you’ve added to Work in the About section of your Timeline.
Vanity URL Your Facebook URL (ex: username or vanity for your account).
Videos Videos you’ve posted to your Timeline.

And this is just the data that we know is being stored by them. They probably (and very likely) track a lot of other things that we don’t even know about!

Protect Yourself from Facebook

Facebook recently announced that it will now track your entire browsing sessions. So, even if you are not on Facebook, Facebook is at liberty to collect data such as – the websites you visited, the Google searches you made, your location, the items you purchased, the movies you streamed,  the credit cards you used, the people you chatted with, the photos you shared etc etc. Pretty Scary!

Not just that, Facebook can also share your information with other (potentially unreliable) websites and companies.

Facebook claims that you can “opt out” if you don’t want your information collected. Turns out that opting-out is not as simple as it sounds! Of course, they’ll make it complicated, so most people are unable to opt-out.

So, here are the steps to follow if you wish to opt-out:

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 6.27.46 PM

  • Click on the “Choose all companies” button on the bottom of the grid.
  • Now repeat this for every browser you use  – Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari etc. (I told you it wasn’t so simple!)
  • Also repeat for every PC / laptop you you use.

You have now opted-out of being tracked by Facebook, as well as a bunch of other websites. Well done 🙂

There’s just one more thing to do – Make sure that these guys don’t track everything you do on your phone/tablet!

So, on your iPhone/iPad,

  • Go to Settings
  • Click on “Privacy
  • Click on “Advertising
  • Turn on the switch next to “Limit Ad Tracking

Congratulations! Pat yourself on the back for taking time to keep your information safe 🙂