After joining Facebook, the information you enter about yourself, and about the people you are friends with, create a profile about who Facebook believes you are as a person. Information collected by Facebook helps give you more relevant advertisements and allows companies that advertise on Facebook to have better ways to market to a specific demographic.
On this page, we help you better understand what information Facebook knows about you, how to view that information, and how you can manage and control the collected information.
What type of information may Facebook know about me?
The information Facebook may know about you depends on how you use Facebook and how much information you and your friends share about you. Also, it is important to understand that a lot of what Facebook knows (believes to know) about you may be generated using algorithms. An algorithm can help give Facebook a better idea about you, but there is also a very good chance that information it thinks it knows is wrong. Below is a full list of all of the different things Facebook may know about you.
Many of these things may require direct input from you. For example, if you haven’t told Facebook your birthday, it’s not going to know your birthday or your age. However, it may still be able to assume your age based on your activity and the things you like.
- Full name with any alternate names (e.g., maiden name or nickname).
- Age (birthday).
- Gender (male, female, other).
- Race and ethnicity (based on likes and behavior).
- Relationship status (e.g., married, single, etc.) including anniversary information.
- Political view (e.g., Democrat, Liberal, Republican, etc.).
- Religious view.
- Your current address including city and state or the general area of where you live based on where you log into Facebook. Can also have places you’ve lived in the past if you’ve moved since creating a Facebook account.
- Your language based on the languages you use on Facebook.
- Places you’ve visited, where you’ve eaten, etc. based on where you log into Facebook or if you’ve ever checked-in at a location.
- Type of family (e.g., family-based household).
- Who your friends and family are and how many you have.
- If you’ve deleted friends, information about all past friends and family.
- Employer and job title including past employers with an idea of income level.
- Phone number with the potential of knowing past phone numbers.
- Your e-mail address with any past e-mail addresses that may have been used since you created the Facebook account. Your account may also include any other account linked related e-mail addresses.
- Credit card information if you’ve made purchases on Facebook.
- Schools attended and level of education.
- Videos and Photos of you that you or your friends have posted. Facebook also collects the metadata that is also part of many photos that includes information such as where the photos were taken.
- Facial recognition information to help detect your face in pictures.
- All IP addresses you’ve used to log into Facebook.
- The technology you use (e.g., type of phone, phone speed, tablet, or computer).
- All Facebook apps you’ve added and used.
- Present and past Facebook groups you’ve joined.
- People you’ve poked and people that have poked you.
- The type of websites you like and visit.
- Your interests (including relationship interests), hobbies, and food you like.
- All past and present likes you’ve made on pages and others’ posts.
- Searches you’ve made on Facebook.
- All pages you’ve shared on Facebook.
- Advertisements that you’ve visited.
How does Facebook collect my information?
Below are the primary methods Facebook use to collect information about you. In addition to the information provided below, you can also find complete company information through the Facebook Data Policy.
The information you submit – Information you voluntarily give to Facebook becomes part of their profile of you, which they own and can sell to others.
Friends and family – Facebook also collects information about you that others (your friends and family) post about you such as sharing a photo of you at an event.
Devices used to connect to Facebook – When using Facebook on a mobile device the devices attributes such as its location and IP addressare also used as a method of collecting information about your location.
Third-party companies – Finally, Facebook also gathers information about you from third-party companies and other Facebook companies (e.g., Whatsapp and Instagram).
How is the information used?
Facebook uses the information it collects on you to help give advertisers the ability to target a specific demographic of people better. For example, if you had a small bakery in the state of Utah, it would be beneficial for you to only advertise to people in Utah. However, Facebook can offer even more specific advertising to an advertiser. For example, they could offer the ability to advertise to people in a specific area of Utah who make a certain level of income and don’t like to bake.
Giving an advertiser the ability to be more specific about their advertising allows Facebook to charge more for advertising and get more people interested in advertising with Facebook. The money Facebook makes from advertising is its primary source of revenue and allows the service to continue to be free and continue to grow.
Does Facebook share my information with other companies?
Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have stated numerous times that no non-personally identifiable information is shared outside of the Facebook company unless permission is granted. However, there have been many data privacy concerns that have caused a lot of people to be concerned with how their personally identifiable information is being used by Facebook.
For example, in March 2018, The Guardian revealed that 50 million Facebook profiles were harvested for Cambridge Analytica in a major data breach. Most of the data collected were from those who took quizzes that granted them access to their data. However, what is most concerning is that their friend’s data was also shared, even if they didn’t participate in the quiz.
If your information is public, and not set to be viewed only by your friends, it is possible for any company or person outside of Facebook to scrape (collect) information about you. Also, the same rule applies to your friends. If any of your friends share a photo of you and their profile is not private, it could be collected by someone outside of Facebook.
How to view what Facebook knows about me
To get a general overview of some of the things Facebook knows about you, follow the steps below for the device you’re using to access Facebook.