George Heise Facebook Article on Security

3 Scary Things Facebook Knows About You

We all know that Facebook (FB) is the biggest gatherer of information about individuals. They probably  know more about you than any government agency. The only difference between them and the government is that you did not allow the government to gather and analyse all this information about you.

Based on the current and upcoming technology I simply try to outline what FB is able to compute about you by simply connecting all these little dots with the help of some more or less simple algorithms they run on your data and behaviour.

1. What Facebook knows about your daily life

FB knows when you get up in the morning due to the the runtime of apps like FB or WhatsApp.
Based on your personal information on FB or you company system FB knows where you work in case you have decided not to share your employer with your FB friends. Also they know when you normally start working. So FB could probably tell your employer that you might be running late for work and that this is because you’ve been partying with old friends from Uni until 4am. Normally FB should be able to access your GPS position in the background and be able to analyse moving patterns based on those GPS coordinates (Google already does so – difference here is that they allow you to see it).
This means FB knows where you normally stop to get a coffee in the morning, if you refuel your car or if you decided to leave the normal everyday pattern to do something else.

2. Facebook knows roughly how much money you have

Ok to be honest this information will be quite vague but at least it allows FB to put you into groups based on how wealthy you are. They should be able to get a pretty clear picture of this from companies you liked on FB and Instagram as well as the companies websites you visit with your browser. Moreover FB is able to read all the apps you have installed on your phone or tablet which allows them to see where you have your money and how often you open those apps.
Furthermore FB knows which mobile devices you had over the time you are on FB, WhatsApp and Instagram. They know when you activated your devices and what kind of phone / tablet it is. This allows them to analyse that you are for example that kind of guy who buys a new iPhone and iPad as soon as they come to the market. This lets them assume that you do not only have the disposable income to afford it but that you are also looking for status symbols.

Based on these factors and several others they should have a pretty clear picture of how much disposable income you have and how you spent it.

3. Facebook knows a lot about your relationship 
(let us assume that you use Tinder)

Signing up for Tinder is easy and statistics show that more and more people are signing up for their service. So it seems finding the perfect love today is also handled by a company that uses FB services.
For everyone who has no experience with Tinder here is a short explanation:

  • Tinder allows you to swipe profile pictures to the left or right to show you are interested in the person you see or no, if two people like each other Tinder allows them to chat with each other

Based on the kind of people you like, Facebook should be able to tell what kind of people interest you.
Even better is that FB knows if you are happy in your relationship or seeking an adventure. Assuming you are in a relationship and you use Tinder this might mean you are willing to cheat on your partner. FB knows how you cheat and the kind of people you are willing to date. Assuming that you communicating with your dates via WhatsApps, FB also has a pretty good information about how much contact you have with him or her and what their name is, remember profile pictures and names from WhatsApp FB is allowed to use for analyses and marketing.

So all this information are probably some of the most private you can have about a person since it lets others predict what you will do. In some cases these information are more than highly confident since they could be used against an individual. Just assume your Boss knows that your are thinking about leaving the company – having these information about you puts you into the passenger seat and the person owning this information in the driver seat.
And even if it is not Facebook who might use it against you over the last couple of years we have seen several security breaches in banks and other industries whether it has been an employee stealing the information or hackers being able to intrude the systems and stealing them from the servers.
Now imaging Facebook losing your highly confidential data and criminals gain access to them – it would open a hole new field for criminals.



Georg P He Heise – MIT Candidate and Monash University

Follow: Twitter @gpheise

Contact : Linkedin

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