Download your Facebook data and be amazed.
Review the data Facebook has on you and consider whether the social network is still worth it.
I’ve downloaded a copy of my Facebook data to take a look at and make a decision as to whether I want to keep using the social network or not. Follow along for yourself and see what conclusion you come to.
You can tell how much of a priority it is for Facebook to get you to download a copy of your data based the location of the button you need to click on to download it.
Nearly hidden at the bottom of the General tab, just click on Download a copy of your data to open up a pandora’s box of questions when you see what’s inside.
It will take you to a web page which shows you all the information has about you including the following:
Here is a quick analysis of some of these areas and what I’m going to do about it.
One of the most surreal experiences was to see that Facebook has every single post I made to my wall since I signed up in 2008. After almost 10 years, my life has totally changed since I first joined. I’ve had several different jobs, relationships, got married, had a kid, travelled and more. In 2008 I cared much more about keeping up with what people are doing, now I barely have the time.
Verdict: I don’t want Facebook to have this information
Like my timeline, I have lots of photos on Facebook that have accumulated over 10 years. Years ago I realised that if I had any pictures I wouldn’t want the world to see then they shouldn’t be on social media, I deleted these a long time ago so Facebook no longer has them.
Verdict: The pictures I have on Facebook are fine.
Like most of us, I’ve had people come and go from my life that Facebook remembers even after I deleted them, 39 in fact. I’ve done a couple of “friend” purges over the years but I was never one to collect thousands of friends in the first place.
Verdict: I’m not concerned about Facebook knowing who I used to be friends with.
Again, with 10 years on Facebook, I’ve messaged a lot of people and my chat history has been saved. While I did do regular friend purges and deleted old photos, I never thought about my chat history living on for eternity.
Verdict: I don’t want Facebook to have this information.
Now this is where things get very interesting! I never thought about checking what companies were targeting me with ads. The truth is I employ a number of tools to block ads and protect my privacy already. I was surprised to find that 166 different companies had targeted me with their ads including:
Lots of restaurants and bars including a pizza restaurant in Western Australia (never been there!)
Movie and music streaming companies
The Trump Foundation
Verdict: While I accept that companies are going to target me with ads for hotels, food, etc, I am very uncomfortable with being targeted by political ads.
This is where you would see if you used the thisisyourdigitallife app that was involved in the Cambridge Analytica data breach. Being a security aware person, I’ve only ever authorised a few apps to access my profile.
Verdict: The apps in my profile don’t scare me, but I know others who will be very surprised by the number of companies that they’ve granted access to.
After looking at the goldmine of data Facebook has on me I am going to delete my account.
Having said this, I do want to keep in touch with people on the social network, the problem is everyone uses Facebook.
The solution? I’m going to re-join Facebook with a new account and add the least amount of information possible.
Andrew is the founder & CEO of DynaRisk. An industry leading security professional, Andrew is a holder of the Security Expert (GSE) designation, one of only 150 worldwide. Earlier in his career as a cyber investigator, his work triggered international investigations by law enforcement into criminal groups and nation states.