What Data Does Facebook Collect About You

What Data Does Facebook Collect About You

The creepy ways Facebook spies on its users have been detailed in a bumper document presented to the American Congress.

They include tracking mouse movements, logging battery levels, and monitoring devices close to a user that are on the same network.

The 454-page report was created in response to questions Mark Zuckerberg was asked during his appearance before Congress in April. Lawmakers gave Zuckerberg a public grilling over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but he failed to answer many of their queries.

The new report is Facebook’s attempt to address their questions, although it sheds little new light on the Cambridge Analytica scandal. However, it does contain multiple disclosures about the way Facebook collects data.

Some are unsurprising, such as the time people spend on Facebook, while others may come as a shock to the majority of users.

Device information

When you access the internet, Facebook keeps track of the device you are using.

Your smartphone, linked television, tablet, computer, or other internet-connected device’s hardware manufacturer will be recorded in order to accomplish this. Facebook also monitors online browser, program, and operating system updates.

Internet service providers (ISPs) are retained for users connecting to Facebook over Wi-Fi or Ethernet, while the mobile carrier is recorded if you’re using a smartphone. Devices connected to the same network as you may occasionally be under its surveillance.

The company explained in the long statement that its services “inherently work on a cross-device basis: knowing when people use our services across numerous devices helps us give the same tailored experience wherever they use Facebook.”

This is carried out, for instance, “to guarantee that a person’s News Feed or profile displays the same material whether they access our services on their mobile phone or via a desktop computer’s web browser,” as stated by Facebook.

Facebook claims that this data is also used to create more individualized advertisements.

Mouse movements

When you connect with the social network, Facebook keeps an eye on your mouse movements on the screen.

The business claims that this information “may assist identify individuals from bots.”

What Data Does Facebook Collect About You
What Data Does Facebook Collect About You

App and file names

The corporation may learn more about the devices you prefer by tracking the app you use to communicate with Facebook.

For the same reason, Facebook also records the names of the files on your computer. When you open Facebook, this information will be synchronized with your profile and affect the kinds of adverts you see.

Device operations

Facebook is interested in knowing how you utilize its social network.

To accomplish this, it keeps track of whether you frequently keep your Facebook browser window in the foreground of your computer screen or whether you prefer to keep it in the background, hidden behind other windows. While you’re logged into the social network, Facebook also keeps an eye on “operations and activities done on the device.”

‘According to Facebook, “We gather information about how you use our products, such as the kinds of material you see or engage with, the features you utilize, the decisions you make, the people or accounts you communicate with, and the timing, frequency, and length of your activities.”

For instance, we keep track of when you use our products, when you last used them, and the posts, videos, and other information you see there.

“We also keep track of how you utilize things like our camera,” the statement continues.

Device connections

The social media platform keeps an eye on a wide range of relationships from your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or smart TV.

It keeps track of Bluetooth signals, the strength of your mobile data connection, Wi-Fi hotspots nearby, and information on cell towers and Bluetooth hotspots. This information may be used to determine whether you generally use Facebook in a certain area or while you’re on the go.

The users’ approximate position may also be determined by nearby access points, beacons, and cell towers, which Facebook can utilize to customize search results and advertisements.

Devices that are nearby

When you login or start the app, Facebook acknowledges that it collects data about other devices that are nearby or connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

According to the Menlo Park-based business, it gathers this information to assist consumers with tasks that call for a variety of gadgets, including streaming videos from a phone to a TV.

According to Facebook, “We gather information about and from the computers, phones, linked TVs, and other web-connected devices our users use that interface with our Products, and we mix this information across a user’s multiple devices.” According to the business, this is just one more step in the company’s mission to improve the Facebook experience for each user.

“To build tailored Products that are unique and relevant to them, we use their connections, preferences, interests, and activities based on the data we gather and learn from them and others (including any data with additional safeguards they choose to contribute),” Facebook claims.

This means they also log ‘how they use and interact with our Products; and the people, places, or things they’re connected to and interested in on and off our Products,’ the firm says.

Battery level
Battery level of your device is being monitored by Facebook.

The company says it tracks ‘hardware changes’ on any devices running its service.

This data could be used to track the impact the Facebook app is having on battery life of the device, however, previous research from Princeton University claimed battery life data alone could be used to track individuals across the web.

Available storage space
Facebook keeps track of the available storage space on any device running its app.

The app needs this information to work-out whether it can perform certain functions, like saving an album of photos to the desktop.

Plugins installed
As well as tracking the brand of web browser you’re using to access the site, Facebook also keeps tabs on whether you have any plugins installed.

Software plugins, like Ad Blockers, can impede some of the social network’s functionality, something it is likely to be monitoring.

Connection speed
The document revealed that your device’s connection speed is also recorded.

Facebook already has information your mobile carrier and your internet service provider, so it makes sense that it wants to know what speeds you’re getting too. This data is used by Facebook to tailor its targeted advertising.

So, if you experience some frustratingly slow 3G speeds one week, don’t be surprised if your News Feed starts to surface adverts for new 4G mobile plans.

Purchases made on third-party websites
Facebook also gathers data from its Facebook Business Tools on third-party websites and mobile apps.

Business Tools include the ‘Login with Facebook’ and ‘Like’ buttons seen on other services around the web.

When these are present on a website or app, data about your activities is being recorded and sent back to the social network. This includes any purchases on third-party sites.

So, if you buy tickets for a band from a site with a Like button on its website, don’t be surprised when advertisements for official musical tours starts to show up on Facebook.

As well as purchases, Facebook says it gathers ‘information about their device, websites they visit, the ads they see, and how they use their services.’


Contact information
Facebook tracks information about the people, accounts, groups, hashtags and pages you connect with on the social network.

This allows the company to work out the contacts you interact with most frequently, so that it can prioritize their content on the News Feed.

Facebook also records additional contact information when you choose to upload, sync or import contacts from a device. According to the company, this could include ‘an address book or call log or SMS log history’.

Facebook says it uses the information to helps users connect with other people they might know on the network.

How users use features like the camera
In the 454-page document, Facebook admits: ‘We log when users are using and have last used our Products, and what posts, videos and other content users view on our Products. We also collect information about how users use features like our camera.’

Data on how the camera is being used allows Facebook to suggest new features – like filters, or masks – that it knows you’re not currently using. But, Facebook insists it does not ‘activate, monitor, or capture’ microphone or camera data without the user’s knowledge and permission.

‘Facebook does not engage in these practices or capture data from a microphone or camera without consent,’ the firm says

‘Of course, we do allow people to take videos on their devices and share those on our platform.’

The location of a photo or the date a file was created
Facebook uses location data to tailor the adverts in the News Feed to you.

It sources this data from statuses where you have checked-in, the location on your device when you login to Facebook, and from meta-data stored with photos.

Digital photographs keep a record of the date and time the photo was taken, and more often than not, the location of the camera when the file was created. This metadata allows Facebook to display the image on a map on the social network.

It also enables Facebook to show them ads from an advertiser that is paying to promote its services in a similar geographical area.


GPS location, camera, or photo information
When you install Facebook on a mobile device for the first time, the social network will request access to your location data.

This data is tacked and used for its targeted advertising.

On iOS, the tracking can be disabled by heading to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Facebook and then toggling the option to Never.

On Android, launch the Facebook app, then Help and Settings > App Settings > Messenger Location Services then uncheck the box marked Location is On.

Device IDs and other identifiers
To help track your activity across different devices, Facebook keeps tabs on a number of different identifiers.

Some of these are unique to you – like the serial number of your device.

However, other identifiers watched by the social network are more general, including games, apps or accounts users use. These can help build a better picture of its users, which can in turn by used for targeted adverts.

‘We provide advertisers with reports about the kinds of people seeing their ads and how their ads are performing, but we don’t share information that personally identifies someone (information such as a person’s name or email address that by itself can be used to contact them or identifies who they are) unless they give us permission,’ the firm notes.

Photo shares, messages sent, uploads, and imports
Facebook also tracks your general usage of its service to not only improve advertising but the design and features on its website in an effort to keep you coming back.

This includes the date and time of your visits to Facebook, the features you used on the social network, what posts, videos and other content you viewed.

Facebook does the same thing for your friends, and friends of friends, to help create a more complete picture of how you interact with the service.

‘This can include information about users, such as when others share or comment on a photo of them, send a message to them, or upload, sync or import their contact information,’ Facebook states in the 454-page document.

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