We explain how the social network collects information from Internet users and prepares accurate profiles based on the data they provide.
Facebook users notice more and more often that the ads that appear while browsing the social network not only have to do with your latest searches on the Internet or fit too well to your profile and interests, but seem to be related to your daily life, with the last commercial establishments where you have been lately or even with your recent conversations. What’s going on?
This shocking phenomenon has raised the suspicion among users that Facebook can even listen to our conversations through the microphones of our devices, gaining strength the urban legend that, indeed, it does, although the truth is that it does not have the technology to analyze the audios of its millions of users … or need to do so.
What do we tell Facebook?
In general, the ‘friends’ we have as contacts, the ‘post’ or the pages to which we give a ‘ like‘, the words we use more frequently, the hours of the day in which we connect, and the contents of what we most visit on Facebook, compose, with the passage of days and years, a certainly reliable image of our likely profile.
The approximate level of income , our political inclinations or our consumption habits are characteristics that can be deduced after a more or less sophisticated treatment of the large amount of data that comes from our use.
But, in addition, there are other mechanisms that allow this social network to obtain a large amount of commercially useful information about us.
Every time, for example, we make electronic payments on a website where we have previously opened a user account that requires our email address, Facebook has access to that information.
In addition, Facebook can know quite accurately where we are, not only thanks to the GPS tracking of our mobile devices, but also through the IP addresses we use or the access points to which we connect.
Also, applications that connect to Facebook are also an important source of information for the blue giant. For example, if we download an application on wine cataloging, it is very likely that in a short time appear on Facebook advertising related to the world of wines, specialized shops in the sector or travel with wine routes.
Facebook thus achieves the development of a precise profile of each user, which is of particular interest to advertisers who want to optimize their advertising when directing it with more guarantees of impact.
What if I’m not even a Facebook user?
The director of Product Management of Facebook, David Beser, addresses in the official blogof the social network an important issue and not without controversy: how to collect data from users who do not even have an account in the social network.
“When you visit a website or application that uses our services, we receive the information even if you are not logged in or have a Facebook account, this is because other applications and websites do not know who is using Facebook,” Baser explains, assuring at the same time that this is a common practice in this sector.
The IP address , operating system and browser they use or the ‘ cookies ‘ generated in each session make up most of the data set that Facebook saves from these “non-users”. Thus is informed of what pages they have visited and for how long , for how many clicks and which sites have taken place and, after all, you can create a pattern on the possible interests of these people who do not have accounts on Facebook .
In addition, there are other ways in which Mark Zuckerberg’s company can ‘extend its tentacles’ beyond the limits of its huge virtual community.
For example, if a friend or acquaintance has us in his or her diary, either between his contacts on Google or on the phone and, at a certain moment, he imports his contact list to the Facebook mobile application, the social network gets that information about we. And it does not hide it : anyone who consults the option ‘more information’ on the operation of the import of contacts from the telephone or from any mobile application, will be able to read a message in which it is explicitly warned that the data of said contacts will be stored on the Facebook servers .
In fact, none of these described mechanisms through which Facebook collects and stores our data are illegal or are hidden. Put another way, his ‘espionage’ is not only legal, but perfectly consented by its users … and by those who are not.