What does Facebook do with all your data?

So you log onto Facebook, like a few pictures, send a comment (or two) to some friends then log off. What does Facebook do with this content? Is it safe?

Facebook predicts your personal, private traits

Facebook has recently been going through some data by:

  • Finding out the personality types of users
  • Identifying your religious beliefs (e.g. Christianity vs Islam)
  • Predicting what your gender is
  • Developing an understanding of what intelligent might be
  • Identifying if you are happy with life
  • Finding out your sexual orientation (i.e. whether you are gay, bisexual or straight)

Facebook, therefore, is starting to illustrate the power of having all this free data. Whenever you sign up to Facebook you must accept the terms and conditions to use the service. By doing so you are allowing Facebook to analyse a lot of information about who you are, what you believe in, as well as, some of your most personal traits.

On the flip side

If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to worry about

But what if they sell all this data to third parties? What if they start predicting what you want in twenty years’ time? Is this a complete invasion of privacy?

If you use Facebook you should be aware of this use/misuse. This post is not an attempt to ‘freak you out’, it points out some privacy issues.

This post is an expansion, probably of many, of reasons why I don’t have Facebook.


Why technology can get it wrong?

There is an article on BBC News‘ website this evening which explains a mother’s anguish at Facebook because she found out that her daughter was dead through Facebook. Why do these thing happen?

Report a deceased person’s profile

Facebook have a form allowing you to pass on validated information that someone has died, such as a friend or family member. Okay, this might be a good idea. Maybe it is good to have a memorial page to remember a person — after all it is good to remember someone online, right?

But this form does not collect people’s opinions on a death. Facebook treat a death like they treat people — just like a number.

Technology and feelings do not mix

No matter how much of a bad day you’re having, or how much you are enjoying life, technology will never really know your emotions. Okay, maybe Twitter can analyse words in your tweets to gather that you are angry, but they will never know why you are angry. Humans can always know, and should be the only ones to ever know how you are feeling.

The mother who found out her daughter was dead through Facebook will never know why Facebook was so insensitive. Maybe she will get an apology from them, but that will not make up for what they done to her.

Technology does not do emotions. Technology needs to take a step back to know that the people, human beings, who use their stuff do do emotions. Humans do emotions really well, in fact.

Examples of where technology gets it wrong because of emotions

  • criminal gangs take place online to vent their anger, or to play with other people’s emotions — they arrange to beat other people up, or even worse, kill other people. Technology can facilitate crime!
  • paedophiles can roam around on the online world to groom young children, and vulnerable adults. Technology does not always get people’s intentions. Technology can support other people’s (sick) sexual emotions
  • technology allows people to steal off other people’s stuff. Technology allows people to download free music, movies and programs. It does not take into account the creator’s loss. How are they funding themselves? Why is your favourite artist not writing as much music as they were before? Is it because they are not getting as much money as they once were? Does this mean we need to be more ethical, as the human being using technology?

Technological suggestion?!

Why does Facebook not send a private message to immediate family members, before they tell the world someone is dead? This won’t necessarily solve their problem, but it might make ‘finding out’ less painful. Facebook do know who and where people are, why don’t the humans behind these global companies get to grips with technology? We will never know why such managers get top positions in a selfish and global company.

As you can tell, I am a little angry with technology right now. It does not always get it right: technology sometimes will never know the full picture!

My dearest technology

technology in a letter format

A little different format to get across the power, use, benefits, limitations and possibly the future of technology. Enjoy!

Dear technology,

You are always in my life, from a text message on my mobile to showing the news on a television, you are there. But I have noticed that you put up some benefits and limitations in everyone’s lives, let me explain.

Technology and disability

A smartphone could allow a blind user to send a text message by making use of your voice control, for example. For a deaf user you allow text to be sent to everyone, know matter what a person’s hearing status is.

Technology you frighten me

Technology, I sometimes get a little caught up on your advancements. If you allow users who are techie (technological gifted) to pretty much do anything they want, such as the hacking of CEO Mark Z’s Facebook account last year, what are my rights online?

You have created one of the world’s biggest groups (anonymous) to stand together in the digital world to fight for everyone’s rights, wants and openness. But you have made me, a human, to think like a computer. I cannot use “password” as a password, I have to use capital letters, digits and symbols now that you are in my life. And even at that, I don’t feel totally safe.

Today I read another news article about you and sound. It was outlining that you might implement the exchange of photos and other things from one mobile to another just by using a chirping sound. This chirp only works if their is a certain app on my mobile, but it could be really useful to get my concert tickets really quickly when I am waiting at the gates to see one of my favourite bands.

Technology I often wonder what the future holds. Will you make humans electronic? If countries are starting to make their citizens have a chip in their passports will they suggest that we all use scanners, or have a chip in our finger to prove who we really are and what we have been up to? I sometimes don’t know what to think about you, technology. My mind can race quickly to figure out what you are going to do next.

You excite me

While I often find the future daunting, you excite me. For example, that Animal Systems firm developed chirps into digital sounds which can be read and written to other electronic devices. Who would have thought that would have happened today? Well not me ten years ago!

Thanks for removing barriers to those who have physical and mental problems, getting the most technological gifted people to join in a unit call anonymous and for making my mind run really quickly as I think about what the next big thing might be.

Yours sincerely,

A proud technology user

5 reasons why social media is popular

Social networking is everywhere – it’s now dominating our own TV screens. Years ago mobile phones made their way onto our TV screen by observing someone on TV text or call another person. Now our TV is showing hash-tags, demanding that the viewer Tweets or Facebook’s the programme – they hope to take over the cyber world by using words or phrases that are created by the viewer to summarise what we are watching. E.g. #PlanetEarth nature’s own program, well done to the BBC!

Why is social media taking over?

  • it is free – social media websites are offering their services to gain consumer opinions on products and services
  • it is easy to use – years ago computers were used by those who were deemed as being “computer literate,” today social media is being used by people who have never used a computer before. E.g. Apple’s iPad allows a person to go online without, technically using a computer to do so! *
  • it’s full of opinions – no matter what anyone is talking about, you can be certain that social media is being used to discuss with others what is happening in the world. As humans we love this, we love to express ourselves – even if it is 140 characters on Twitter!
  • it allows us to interact – we can share pictures on Tumbler and Facebook of our new dog / car. Our friends get a quick visual update of what we are doing
  • it is instant – now our mobiles are filled with apps, we update one another about what we are doing now, right now, in real time. We love hearing about breaking news and events. It’s now rare to buy a new mobile which cannot connect to the internet, or run the latest app.
Hand and thumb outline

Hand and thumb outline of social media associated words

As a thumbs up to social media, these words are supposed to be the shape of a fist and thumb – does it look like a finger or thumb?

What’s your view(s)?

Do you think there are more reasons to add to this list? If so, please feel free to comment.

* Well, except for the initial installation!

Reasons why I don’t have Facebook

Facebook has over 900 million users [1] – I am not one of them! This is why:

Facebook: not the only method

I hear so many people asking one another to poke me, Facebook me and I have to say that I do not have a Facebook account. Sometimes I get a really shocked face, other times I get a really positive reaction, for example, some say that I must not be easily influenced by other people and things.

My traditional methods of communication help me stay in touch with my brilliant family, and close friends. I text, I email and I call people; although I am a texter at heart.

Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected [2]

I am a student (at University) of ICT – I embrace openness, connectivity, sharibility, freedom etc. But I do not believe in sharing my personal life with a company, namely Facebook. Did you know that your information, your life, your wall is being used for personalised marketing? I haven’t actually saw a Facebook wall, I haven’t even asked a relative (or friend) to log in, so I could see, in detail what these walls look like. I don’t intend to either.

Your life = Facebook gain

Facebook probably know when everybody gets paid, they can (probably) predict what you are going to do next summer. Did you ever go on a holiday and say you’d go back? Did you post that on Facebook? If so, they know you! They know just as much about you as your friends, and they don’t even know you!

Advertising is a massive industry. It is used everywhere, we even use it – our CV’s (or resume) is our own marketing tool for employers. Facebook abuse this power, claiming that it’s them being open. Now that’s one accurate mission statement!

Facebook’s power of knowledge

Facebook is now getting really clever, they are starting to use their content to predict and produce advertisments to all their users. Your free page is worth millions to Facebook – that’s why it’s given to you free of charge! They know that user’s will generate content, specific and personal content, they’ll index it, use it and produce it for financial means.

Anti-Facebook, not totally

I am, of course, a human being. So I know how important it is to share your life with those who are really close to you. I know that Facebook is a method of communication, for some, it is the only main method of communication. But all I am trying to get across to you, is to be careful as you embrace and use technology, it has its downfalls. The only piece of advice I can give a Facebooker is to look at your own privacy settings. Search yourself, use Google (another organisation I may let of some steam about on here, in the near future) to search your name, can you see from Google what you have been up to? If you can, so can everyone else on the web – including employers! Yes, your own marketing tool (your CV) can back fire!

In my life I have nothing to hide. So I definitely do not get my anti-Facebooknism to hide an element of who or what I am, but I do have some problems with where, who and what information is used for:

  • pay day – when do you go on a spending spree? Ah, every fourth Wednesday! Quick get X some Y adverts in two weeks time, they’ll buy this if we show them it enough. Better still give them these advertisements at 6pm, they log-in lots of times during this time of day
  • geographic location – did you know that X spends a lot of time writing about Y pub? They post and tag pictures of Z all the time. That’s great, we can pass these details on to see if that celebrity is really there in the photos, or better still, we need to turn our openness into criminal touts – we’ll pass your information onto third parties
  • hacking – with all this content, why don’t X hack Facebook to gain access to all this valuable information? Oh wait, I don’t want Faceleaks – what if my information gets into criminal hands, the wrong hands to prove that Facebook are not for connection and openness? Too late, I’m a regular user, I don’t think of these things! Look at J Assange and Wikileaks – he got (with help) lots of important, authoritive government data! Perhaps to ensure the world knew that he actually got the data.

I think you now know that I will not be signing up to Facebook anytime soon?! Share safe online, be safe online by knowing what you have to do as the user of technology – it is a big, big scary world, at times, but it’s often a fantastic world.


  1. http://newsroom.fb.com/content/default.aspx?NewsAreaId=22
  2. http://www.facebook.com/facebook/info