How comfortable are you with sharing your personal information with everyone?  Is there such a thing as privacy on social media? You may be shock at how much Facebook has stored on you.

On the 16th of March, Facebook’s common stock  (NASDAQ:FB) was worth approximately $185 but today it is worth around $158.  In the last couple of weeks it had dropped around 14%.  The recent negative news regarding privacy issues is having a major impact on the price. Will we see it drop further? The social network has been criticized for allowing Cambridge Analytica, an analysis firm, retrieve data on 87 million users.  The information is believed to have been used to help Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and now there are reports the FTC maybe investigating whether Facebook had “failed” to protect users’ privacy.

Facebook is required by law to notify users of any changes to their privacy policies and the social network has to get users’ permission before any data is shared beyond their preferred privacy settings (aka, “consent decree”).  David Vladeck, the former director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated in an interview with the Washington Post, the penalty for each violation of the consent decree is $40,000.  If the data of 87 million people were indeed compromised, the cost of the penalty could be devastating for Facebook.

It’s Your Data

So this leaves us wondering, how much data are we sharing with Facebook and their partners? It is your information; however, the question is, how much of it did you permit to be collected and stored?  It may shock you at what they are storing and sharing based on your permission.

Now would be the best time to review what Facebook has stored away — and possible sharing.  Below are instructions on how you can retrieve YOUR information. It is easy, you go to settings, then general account settings, and click on download my data.

Facebook download sample

sample of Facebook Download Your Info

To download a copy of your Facebook data:
  1. Click  at the top right of any Facebook page and select Settings.
  2. Click Download a copy of your Facebook data below your General Account Settings.
  3. Click Start My Archive.

An hour or so later an email should arrive with a link to download your files.  If you are a very active user, the file size will most likely be over 250MB. The file will be in a zip file format.  We recommend copying the zipped file to a folder. Whereby you can then “unzip” and save the content of the file. Next, double click on the “index.htm” file to open the files in your browser.  A simple web page will open with navigation links on the left and your profile page open at default.  Here is a list of links found on the page:

Left side navigation:

Profile
Contact Info
Timeline
Photos
Videos
Friends
Messages
Events
Security
Ads
Applications

You may will be surprise to find all the photos, videos, text messages, and even all your postings. For some people, the historical data will be exciting but others may be disturbing. The volume of information stored on Facebook servers is massive.

One very interesting  fact we would like to stress, when you link any external app to Facebook it most likely will gather a lot more data about you.  If you think this is disturbing, take a look at your contact list.  There you will find your entire contact list from your computer/cellphone(s). You will see everyone’s numbers — even your friend’s private numbers.  There is a strong possibility your friend’s private number is now not so private.  So every time you enter a new number into your cell phone, it will ends up with Facebook.

This seems to be more of a common practice with many other companies.  So if you think this is violation of your privacy, what about Apple’s iCloud, Google, and many other companies where millions store their cell phone data, including their contacts? Users are expressly asked if they want to give permission to upload their contacts – it is explained right there in the apps when you get started.  You may want to think twice the name time you grant an application permission to pry.

So how comfortable are you?

So the question is… who and what are they sharing YOUR information with?  And more importantly, how comfortable are you about sharing… everything?

 

We plan to do a follow-up story very shortly.