What happens when you download your Facebook data

19 April, 2018, 06:01 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a US Senate hearing in Washington. Brendan Smialowski AFP

Even if you are paying for something, like Netflix, they're still collecting data to try and boost its own services and personalise it to try and match your own tastes.

The redesign comes at a time when Facebook is embroiled in a widening scandal after reports that British data firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly gathered detailed Facebook information on 87 million users, up from a previous estimate of more than 50 million.

Many websites and apps use Facebook services to make their content and ads more engaging and relevant.

Facebook has said that a Cambridge University lecturer named Aleksandr Kogan collected the data legitimately through a personality quiz app but then violated Facebook's terms by sharing the information with Cambridge Analytica, which was later hired by the Trump campaign during the 2016 United States presidential election. That strategy generated $40 billion in ad revenue for Facebook last year, helping to make it one of the world's most valuable companies just 14 years after Zuckerberg started the business in his Harvard dorm room.

On his Facebook page, Zuckerberg also announced that the company would be launching a central hub to enable users to control the information they share on the site, including political preferences and other interests. If someone disagrees with Facebook's or other social media sites' long "user terms and conditions" section when signing up, that person can't use the service. Google has a popular analytics service. "And Amazon, Google and Twitter all offer login features", Baser wrote in in the blog post. When you visit a website, your browser (for example Chrome, Safari or Firefox) sends a request to the site's server.

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Baser gave a pinky-promise that this kind of non-user tracking is all about functionality: "knowing your IP address allows us to send the Like button to your browser and helps us show it in your language". That game you play or app you use also contains a lot of personal information.

A CA spokesman said: "It's widely known that like other marketing agencies we sometimes collect personality data using a research panel with an appropriate statement of consent". "This can help with things like saving items in your shopping cart", Baser explained. The post further lists the services that are used by these third party apps and websites. "This would apply to other services beyond Facebook because, as mentioned, it is standard to how the internet works". And while your friends are concerned about who got to use their profile data without permission, you gloat that your personal information is safe and remains out of the clutches of Facebook.

Zuckerberg maintained, however, that Facebook does not sell anyone's data and that users can control who has access to whatever they share via "inline" settings.

The government has said that any attempt by social media sites, including Facebook, to influence India's electoral process through undesirable means will not be tolerated and if need be strict actions shall be taken.

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