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How Can You Find Out What Facebook Knows About You?

How Can You Find Out What Facebook Knows About You?

You don't need to have been religiously following the Cambridge Analytica scandal to know that Facebook and Google are following you around the internet, but the extent to which the tech giants are tracking everyone's tiniest movements online has been shocking.

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Perhaps not that many of us were too bothered about the all-seeing eye of Mark Zuckerberg before the recent data breach was uncovered, but in the cold light of Cambridge Analytica, increasingly large amounts of people are delving into the backend of their Facebook accounts to find out just how much of their lives are stored on the social media platform.

Gaining access to this information - which includes almost everything that an advertiser might want to know about you - is surprisingly simple.

You'll need to be in your Facebook account, of course, and then you can go to the Settings tab and click on the 'Download a copy of your Facebook data' option. From that, you will be given the option of 'Start My Archive', which will organise everything that Facebook knows about you into one easily downloadable package.

Credit: Facebook
Credit: Facebook

They might ask you for your logins and your email so that they can send the big fat data file your way, as any of us with a significant time on Facebook (especially those who signed up a decade or more ago) will require an email with attachment to deal with the file size.

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Many have been outraged by the sheer amount of information that Facebook knows about them and their reaction to the scandal has been widely criticised - particularly for the way data held on 50 million Americans was used, without permission, in the build-up to the 2016 Presidential election.

The potential tracking of private calls and messages has caused particular concern to many users.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

In a wide-ranging statement, the company said: "You may have seen some recent reports that Facebook has been logging people's call and SMS (text) history without their permission. This is not the case.

"Call and text history logging is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android. This helps you find and stay connected with the people you care about, and provides you with a better experience across Facebook.

"When you sign up for Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android, or log into Messenger on an Android device, you are given the option to continuously upload your contacts as well as your call and text history."

Facebook's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. Credit: PA
Facebook's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. Credit: PA

The statement continued: "For Messenger, you can either turn it on, choose 'learn more' or 'not now'. On Facebook Lite, the options are to turn it on or 'skip'. If you chose to turn this feature on, we will begin to continuously log this information, which can be downloaded at any time using the 'Download Your Information' tool."

So they do have the info, of course, because we gave it to them and gave them our permission. It might make us feel better to rage at them, but the truth is that we all signed up for it.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Social Media, Facebook, Technology

Mike Wood

Mike Meehall Wood is a freelance journalist and translator. He writes for LADbible, VICE and countless sports publications, focusing on rugby league, football and boxing. He is a graduate of Leeds University and maintains a fizzy pop obsession. Contact Mike at [email protected]