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With the current uproar over Facebook’s (FB) data handling practices it might be a good time to take a look at just what they actually have in their system about you. Never really think about that? Neither did I for a variety of reasons. First of all, I am not a huge FB user. The less people know about my personal life the better. What I put out there is minimal…I think. The same goes for Twitter. LinkedIn is a different story as I use that in business.

 The question becomes, how do you find out what FB “knows” about you? So far, no other social media sites have stepped up and offered the same instructions. My cynical guess is that they are laying low while FB is taking a beating.

What is it that FB tracks on each of its users? Well, the short answer is a lot! If you go to the official FB page on the topic, they present a table with 70 categories of data they track…seventy! Of course, mundane things like the name of your account, when joined, and so forth are tracked but it also includes political views, religious views, phone numbers (more on that in a minute), all your Facebook chats, credit cards you have used, etc. Not included in the list but tracked are ads you clicked on, IP addresses in use when you logged into and out of FB, and more. This is some serious data collecting here.

To add insult to injury, Android mobile users will find that their entire contact list, a list of all text messages, and a list of all phone calls has been siphoned from their Android smartphones (read this article for one reporter’s experience). Apparently, FB used an “opt-in” strategy in collecting user permission to collect this data. By that I mean you had to specifically say “No, do not collect this information” to prevent them doing it. Unfortunately, FB did not make it easy to find the opt-out option.

With that as the background, how do you find out what FB has in their database about you? According to the instructions from FB themselves, here are the simple steps to see what they have tracked about you.

  1. Click the top right of any Facebook page and select Settings
  2. Click Download a copy of your Facebook data at the bottom of General Account Settings (see example to the right)
  3. Click Start My Archive

And to make sure you are careful with your data, FB provides the following advice:

Because this download contains your profile information, you should keep it secure and be careful when storing, sending or uploading it to any other services.

That seems a touch ironic as it seems that FB has been sending it all over the known universe for several years.

Plenty of people are also taking direct action and leaving FB. Big names like Elon Musk are suggesting it is time for the company to go. The most frequently mentioned replacement platform is Instagram. Just be forewarned, FB owns them. I suppose they might even transfer your data for you! Also be aware, FB owns WhatsApp as well.

This isn’t about bashing the practices of FB because in truth, they aren’t that different in many respects from any other free-to-use app or service. Those companies have to pay for their development and technology some way and selling user data is the most profitable.

It is for all these reasons and more that CRIP.TO’s business model based on pay-to-use. We fund our company and services by fees charged to users. That way we have no need and indeed, no interest, in our customers’ private data.

With CRIP.TO as your secure communications service provider, you have the freedom to communicate fearlessly, just the way we designed it. Find out more at CRIP.TO.

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