Social media and technology platforms such as Facebook and Google collect huge amounts of data about their users. This is especially worrying when those data may fall into the wrong hands, such as the recent Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
As public outrage grows, Facebook claims to take steps to prevent such a thing in the future. CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress and the chief executive says the platform will be the amount of data that third parties can use for the future.
How to view your Facebook data
Fortunately, Facebook has a simple function that allows you to download all the data collected about you. It is called "My archive" and it is pretty easy to use.
- Access Facebook in the web browser of your choice.
- Click on the Menu icon in the top-right corner of the page. This should look like one small arrow down.
- Click on Settings
- From there you should be greeted with a General Account Settings menu. Somewhere in the middle of the page you would get a copy of it your Facebook data. Click here.
- You want to hit Start my archive. Facebook will ask you to authenticate with your password.
Facebook now sends an e-mail with additional instructions and a link to download your archives. Depending on the age of your account, this can take several hours.
In your archive you will find different folders and a series of documents in the .htm format.
But contain disturbing data …
What you could find
If you click on the file named "index.htm", you will be redirected to an archive of your web browser. You can find inside.
- Phone numbers, e-mail addresses and other contact details for many or all of your friends.
- Restaurants, shops, airports and other places that you have "registered" via Facebook
- The IP address of each device and network that you used to connect to the platform.
- Your account history In short, every time you closed your account and reactivated.
- Your active sessions – when you are logged in and actively use Facebook.
- Your face recognition data, based on all selfies and profile photos you have uploaded.
- Also note that Facebook also keeps track of your search history, publications you like and other random data on its platform, but they are not in your archive. You can find this information in the activity log.
Make sure you are logged into Facebook, click on your own profile and click on "View activity log".
View your & # 39; Ad Preferences & # 39;
Although your archive contains information about your advertising preferences and the advertisers you worked with, you will not get the full story. For this you need access to your advertising preferences.
- Click on the menu icon (arrow down).
- Click settings.
- Click ads in the menu on the left sidebar.
From there you come to your advertising preferences – in fact, the data that Facebook uses to show you targeted advertisements. And there are some interesting and scary things that you can find here.
For example, under Your information and your categories you will see different assumptions made by Facebook algorithms about you.
You may find that you have guessed your interests, your approximate political and religious views, and other categories, for example if you are a regular traveler or a small entrepreneur. Curiously, there is also a "multicultural affinity" – such as the Afro-American or Hispanic – with which the platform may have tagged you.