Facebook Tracks More of Your Data Than You Realize

March 21, 2016 3 min read

Facebook Tracks All of Your Data

Every time you log into Facebook, there’s a very good chance you are giving away far more of your personal data than you might imagine.  For instance, those ads that seem to know your hobbies and interests?  They utilizeretargeting & remarketing data derived from your Facebook page.  Those relevant articles and posts always populating your wall feed?  They fall under the same category.  

In this day and age, data is king and it has become increasingly valuable to the corporations that control and shape our everyday lives.

You see, it may seem like Facebook knows you, and to a certain degree, it does!  Sites like Facebook use an algorithm to track what you’ve “liked”, log your page habits, record where your mouse spends the most time on the page, and everything else that happens on-page in between.

These browsing behaviors are meticulously tracked by Facebook because this data can prove to be extremely valuable when improving its strategic decision making, and even more valuable to its advertisers.  In 2015, Facebookgenerated $17.93B in advertising sales and revenue alone!

Many companies use Facebook’s platform as a way to track you.  In all likelihood, there are dozens of companies watching your habits, your posts, storing profile information and more, and they’re doing it this very minute without your knowledge.  We will now tell you how to stop it.

Why Did They Start?

In its early years, people flocked to Facebook in droves because all of the cool features it offered.  You could connect with family and friends around the world, and it was completely
free.  Well it still costs nothing for the end-user to use the basic services, but back then there were no ads even.  That’s right, Facebook started off ad-free, but it was not to last.  

People and companies soon realized that the amount of data FB could mine was worth its weight in gold.  By clicking a “like” button, users told companies exactly what they were thinking, and these insights turned into billions of advertising dollars.

Other Ways Facebook & Friends Track You

Of course Facebook is tracking your every move on its mobile phone app, but not everyone realizes the other major avenues to your personal information, such as third-party applications, where you log in to your FB account, and even your friends’ apps.

Every time you agree to a request to sign up to a new FB game your friends are obsessed with, that app shares your personal information.  Each time you visit a site that says, “Log in with Facebook”, and you agree, you are sharing your information with that site and company.  And even if you did not download a third-party FB app, FB’s default app settings allow your friends’ apps to see and track you anyway!  Scary stuff.


So How Do I Stop It From Happening?

Facebook Data Theft

If you’d like to see which apps have been installed over the years, open FB, click the drop down menu arrow in the upper right-hand corner, and select “Settings.”  Now click on the “Apps” header in the left column.

To check out what information an app is accessing, click on the pencil icon next to the app of your choice, and edit the settings.  The first setting sets who can see that you use the app, so unless you have a good reason otherwise, set this to “Only Me.”  Repeat this process for all apps you’d like to continue to use.

If there are apps in your list you no longer wish to use, click the “Remove App” link at bottom of the app’s respective page.  

If you’ve decided you no longer wish to use these diabolical apps and want to turn them off completely, go to the app settings page.  Under “Apps, Websites, and Plugins”, click the “edit” button.  Find the “Disable Platform” link in the bottom, left-hand corner and click it.  Viola!  No more pesky apps.

In the future, try to stop using an app or logging into a site that utilizes FB in order to log in.

Lastly, you need to stop your friends’ apps from seeing, taking, and utilizing your info.  To do this, go back to the App Settings page, and under “Apps Others Use”, click the “Edit” button.  You’ll see all the things your friends’ apps can see about you.  Go through and uncheck every single option listed on the page, and then don’t forget to hit “Save.”   Now these companies cannot track any new information about you. 

Going Forward

As you’re now better aware of how Facebook & Co. tracks and shares your personal information, be diligent as to how you use it.  Limit your use of third-party apps, control which information these apps can gather about you, and be mindful of using Facebook logins to sign up for non-FB sites.


Josh Bare
Josh Bare

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