An article from Engadget recently detailed Facebook’s practice of obtaining off-line data about its users from third-party sources. The picture above is from the Engadget article.
From the article:
Currently, Facebook works with six data partners in the US: Acxiom, Epsilon, Experian, Oracle Data Cloud, TransUnion and WPP. For the most part, these providers deal in financial info; ProPublica notes that the categories coming from these sources include things like “total liquid investible assets $1-$24,999,” “People in households that have an estimated household income of between $100K and $125K and “Individuals that are frequent transactor at lower cost department or dollar stores.” Specifically, the report notes that this data is focused on Facebook users’ offline behavior, not just what they do online.
I have a constant on-again, off-again relationship with Facebook. Though I have been trying really hard to dump the service, I have been using it during the holidays because many friends and family members use the service as their only means of communication. This is where they share their pictures, this is how they communicate (with Messenger), this is where they share their interesting news. If I want to know what’s going on with them I need to log in and take a look. Plus, several of the aviation forums I follow are through Facebook. Annoying, I know.
I’ve blogged numerous times about the privacy concerns when using Facebook. I was recently doing some research at work on a new software package and imagine my surprise when I logged into my personal laptop, fired up Facebook and saw that hideous interface populated with ads for the software package I had been researching at work. I know how it happened: I logged into Facebook on my work computer for some reason and then all of a sudden there’s a myriad of cookies in my browser reporting back to Facebook on every move I make on the Internet, providing Facebook with all sorts of data.
Well now Facebook is going outside online methods and gathering data from third party sources that aren’t even online. If you read the list quoted above, you’ll see that Experian is listed, which I believe is one of the credit rating services.
Zuck and friends want to lean in on your financial data.
Every time I log into Facebook to see how my high school friends are doing or to follow along with some flights with some online pilot friends I’ve met over the years I know that I’m giving Facebook data on my recent Amazon purchases, hints and raves about my latest online tirade placed through a commenting section of an article, etc. But frankly, it’s really none of Facebook’s business as to how much money I make or how much our mortgage is worth.
The thing is that I can scream about this until I’m blue in the face. I can share the frustrations of using that very invasive Facebook Messenger program (particularly frustrating for iOS users that should be using the much more secure iMessage app). I can tell people that Facebook is basically data raping them and they couldn’t1 care less. Facebook is easy and free and easy and free is the American way. “They have nothing to hide.”
I have nothing to hide, either, but I still value my privacy. Let’s see what I do with Facebook in 2017. Perhaps I’ll put my money where my mouth is.
1 Just a pet peeve of mine, but it is “couldn’t care less”, not “could care less”. Because, if you could care less, then you should care less if you’re really that disinterested.