What Facebook Really Knows About You

This week was an eye-opener for a lot of folks, with big data, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica making headlines on just about every news outlet. It’s becoming painfully obvious that every move you make on Facebook is being bought and sold. The data is being used to sell you stuff (this is no surprise) and it’s also apparently being used to change the course of elections and influence public thought in profound ways.

Basically, if you didn’t care about “Facebook knowing what I had for lunch,” before this week, you might start rethinking your mantra.

So it’s perfect that we ran across this little tidbit just now – Data Selfie, a browser add-on that can show you in excruciating detail exactly what “they” now know about you, based on your actual Facebook usage.

“How does it work? Every time you like, click, read, or post something on Facebook, Facebook knows,” writes Data Selfie creator and Mozilla fellow Hang Do Thi Duc. “Even if you don’t comment or share much, Facebook learns about you as you scroll through your feed.”

“My add-on does something similar,” Hang continues. “It’s here to help you understand how your actions online can be tracked. It does this by collecting the same information you provide to Facebook, while still respecting your privacy.”

After installing it, just browse FB like you always do. Hang explains it takes about a week of regular Facebook usage to really start to understand who you are and what makes you tick. And we aren’t just talking about tracking the sites you visit or the ads you click. Hang’s add-on uses machine learning algorithms to put together the kind of “snapshot” that big analytics companies can and do create out of your social platform usage.

Try it. I can almost guarantee you’ll be creeped out at how intimate a picture this paints. And you might think twice before you “like” that next post.