‘I Agree’ This is single-handedly THE biggest lie on the internet. I mean, have you ever actually read the terms and conditions when you sign up for anything?
No. I didn’t think so.
I’ve recently been speaking at a lot of events where the topic of ‘big data’ has come up.
It’s hot right now, but what does it actually mean?
In short; it’s big brother. 1984 is here, but way beyond anything George could have imagined.
Now it’s not just Facebook who are huge on data, I could list thousands. But I’m a fan of Facebook and I think they’re quite interesting so I’m sticking with them for this blog.
So what does big data mean for YOU?
Well, I’m going to connect some of the dots (or should that be pixels?) for you now.
Cookies (pixels and other hidden stuff)
Without getting into the tech stuff, this is the modern version of stalking. Visit a website and a huge chunk of the time you’ll be tracked by the website owner.
Where you click, when you click, how much time you spend there, what you buy, how you buy it, all that kinda stuff is practically as common as breathing these days.
More than that this ‘anonymous’ data will be aggregated by companies like Facebook (and many others) and analysed to better understand human behaviour.
This tech has been kicking around for quite a while now and that’s not really so shocking anymore.
What’s fun / exciting / scary / newer is the ability companies have to act on this data.
This is where online stalking meets offline stalking.
Do you have location services turned on? Chances are if you do location tracking is alive and kicking on your phone.
In simple terms, Facebook knows where you’ve been, who you’ve been with and how often you go there.
No 1984 conspiracy here. It’s happening right now.
Then comes ‘offline conversions’
Basically, everything is trackable now.
Facebook say, “With offline conversion measurement capabilities on Facebook, you can track when transactions occur in your physical business location and other offline channels after people see or engage with your Facebook ads.”
So buying something or making a phone call to a store is trackable now.
There are listed ‘partners’ who run business software. These include Clover, Index, Lightspeed, Poynt and Square. Pretty much a gazzillion (figure made up by me) different retailers across the globe. Oh and then there are the loyalty card providers, CRM providers and call centre partners too. Check out the full list here
Guess Facebook knows a bit more about you than the fact you uploaded a cat video now…
Let’s add some Dark Social & Data Giants too…
We all know Facebook owns Instagram, so they share stuff. According to Facebooks own website they also own these beauties too;
- Facebook Payments Inc. (spending money on Facebook stuff)
- Atlas (who then have a load of other partners including TRUSTe – the leading global data privacy company)
- Onavo (data protection app)
- Moves (diary of your life that connects to 40+ other health tracking type apps)
- Oculus (leading VR company)
- WhatsApp Inc. (yes, all those messages and contacts!)
- Masquerade (the dudes who bring you bunny ears on messenger)
- CrowdTangle (social media analysis)
My point – Facebook’s reach of potential data sharing with partners is ginormous.
OK, OK, but what do they ACTUALLY know?
Because I know you’ve never read it, here are some highlights from the Data Policy of Facebook. This next section is taken directly from Facebook Policies.
Things you do and information you provide.
Stuff you create or share, and message or communicate with others.
Things others do and information they provide.
We also collect content and information that other people provide when they use our Services, including information about you, such as when they share a photo of you, send a message to you or upload, sync or import your contact information.
Your networks and connections.
We collect information about the people and groups you are connected to and how you interact with them.
Information about payments.
If you use our Services for purchases or financial transactions, we collect information about the purchase or transaction.
What does that all mean? EVERYTHING you do (including how much battery life you have) is shared on Facebook. And that information gives them a LOT of power.
I’m a bit freaked out, what do I do?
You can control some of the stuff. Turning off location services seems like a good first step.
Then you can Manage Your Ad Preferences which tells Facebook the types of things you’re interested in.
You’ll be able to get rid of whole categories or just certain topics of interest.
Of course, if the advertiser is using broader targeting options then you’ll still see some ads even if you delete all of your preferences.
In conclusion, if you’ve done it, they know. Great for advertisers, not so much fun for privacy.