What Information Does Facebook Collect About Its Users?

Yes, Facebook has been watching your behavior — and learning. Find out what sort of information Facebook has been collecting, and why.

A large amount of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising. This helps to keep their service free for users. Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t explicitly tell users what type of information they’re collecting, how much they’re collecting, and why.

Information Facebook Collects

It’s difficult to know exactly how much data Facebook collects. They are purposefully vague about their activity, and perhaps want to avoid mass user panic. Some of the information they collect includes: where you live (or your current location), your age, gender, level of education, employment details, language, the type of device you use, income level, relationship status and details, life events, political engagement, shopping and buying behavior, the type of car you own, the bank you use, your TV and music interests, and more. But Facebook also collects data on your Facebook activity, any websites you visit while logged in on Facebook, in addition to websites you visit when not logged in on Facebook.

Read More: Is Facebook Listening to Your Mic to Create Targeted Ads?

Recently, Facebook made a deal with WhatsApp to collect data on WhatsApp users. According to Gizmodo, this information includes phone numbers, how frequently people use the app, mobile carriers, screen resolution, type of operating system, and more. The full list is unknown. While this information might seem harmless, it can be used to figure out the type of phone you have, your income, and your interests.

What is the Information used for?

As stated, Facebook makes its money from advertising. They use the collected information for targeted marketing purposes. Businesses want to know more information about their customers, and how they can better reach them. If you visit a clothing store’s website, for example, Facebook uses that information to send you ads related to that store, or similar businesses. Facebook might also take into account where you live to send you targeted regional ads. You can opt out of targeted ads through Facebook settings, but unfortunately, this doesn’t stop them from collecting information on you.

Non-Facebook Users

Not a Facebook User? Facebook still collects information about non-users. If you visit any Facebook page, such as a Facebook business page, or an article that has a Facebook “like” button, Facebook is tracking you. Facebook considers this cookie-tracking to be a security measure against what could potentially jeopardize the security of Facebook user accounts. The cookie-tracking can help prevent hacking and fake accounts from being created.

Nonetheless, many people consider the tracking of non-users to be unethical since these users did not agree to a Facebook privacy policy. Still, it’s unclear as to if this issue will be resolved, or what targeted marketing and data collection will look like in the future. Odds are, it might be even more intrusive.