Nowadays, many social media platforms have access to some of our most private information, and we aren’t even aware of it. Most large social media services now let you download a complete archive of your data. These large archives compile all of your social media posts and details. At one time, I actually download my data from Facebook myself, using the data download features from large social media services. Because of the new data rules from the General Data Protection Regulation, companies have to make it easier for users to see and download their data. I decided to take a plunge into all my internet and social media history.
How Well Does Facebook Know Me?
In downloading the data from Facebook, I was overwhelmed. There were obvious things included like all the photos I’ve posted, comments I have made on other’s posts, and it even listed all of my “poke” activity. Surprisingly, Facebook stores a list of all the people I have unfriended. The data even included a list of friend requests that I had sent but were never rejected or accepted.
What really got me was when the data included all of the ads I apparently clicked on since April. Two parts of the data stood out to me. One section called “Friend Peer Group” which analyzes my friends’ posts to determine which “life stage” they are in. According to the data, the correct life stage for my age group was “ Starting Adult Life”. Even more strange was a section called “ Advertisers who’ve uploaded a contact list with your information.” The data listed companies that have obtained my contact information and uploaded it as part of Facebook advertising.
What Does Google Know?
Google had a very large amount of data, about 30 gigabytes total. I have had a google account for 7 years, and the data recovered every single google search I have ever done on that account. This made me feel unsettled because sometimes I ask Google stupid or embarrassing questions. Well, all of those stupid embarrassing questions are documented and linked to my account forever. The data also included a list of all the searches I had performed in Google news. Most of the rest of the archive was taken up with backups of my files from Google drive. YouTube uploads, copies of photos and screenshots that I uploaded to my Google photo account.
How Do I Feel About This?
As you can see, my social media accounts know a lot about me. Be careful who you share your passwords with or who you let handle your devices. Your information can be accessed easier than you think, so keeping your technology secure is also keeping your privacy secure.