Facebook is the most popular social network in the world. Modern life depends on being invited to events and self esteem must be validated by acceptable amounts of ‘likes’ on profile pictures. But what about the hidden dangers, such as how our information can so easily be shared with anybody, including the wrong people. As part of this project I ‘googled’ myself excessively (no I’m not a narcissist) and I embarked on a journey in order to find out what anybody else could find out about me.


Now as somebody who prides herself on having a very private ‘private life’ I was shocked. I discovered that anybody could see every page that I have ‘liked’ – TV programmes I watch; people who inspire me; music I like… I promptly rectified this and changed the settings to private, but it was alarming all the same. So it poses the question: where does the information we post go and what can Facebook do with our supposedly ‘private’ information?


Here it is for you broken down into bullet points; stare aghast and if you feel moved deactivate your Facebook profile after reading if you choose.


– Facebook can locate you via GPS and provide you with whatever they deem to be ‘relevant notifications’ – for example if you named your current city as London and listed clubbing as an activity they might suggest club ‘Tiger Tiger’. It is stated that they only keep it until it is no longer useful to them; of course this is an immeasurable length of time.

– Your data can be provided to advertising partners, associates and customers linked to Facebook. Your name and other personal information are removed, but you are not notified when this transferral takes place.

– You own your information so there are several conditions that must be met (note that only one of these conditions need apply). In order to share this information Facebook must have: received your permission, given you notice (this often means it merely has to be included in the privacy policy) and finally your name and any information that could identify you have to be removed.


>>>>Note that information which your ‘friends’ or other Facebook users share about you is not monitored; the information sharer controls how and with whom this is shared.


– Facebook stores all of your data until your account is deleted – not deactivated. Why? For the principle purpose of providing products and services to you. However certain forms of data have particular rituals and may take longer to be deleted or not be deleted at all.

– If you deactivate your account you cannot be searched for but your information is not deleted, it remains in case you decide to later return.

– In order to delete your information you must delete your account entirely, this can take up to one month and is a permanent action. However some information may remain for up to 90 days in back up and logs.

– Other information is said to be necessary to provide you with services you may want, even if you ‘opt out’ this information is only removed when you choose to delete your account. If you posted on a group or wrote on an inbox this remains even after your account is deleted.

– With the introduction of timeline you have the option of selecting who can view your information by selecting the sharing icon. If this icon is not present it means that there is not an option and therefore the information will be automatically made public.

– Your friends list is available to any games, websites or applications you use through Facebook. This applies even if you set your friends list to private, if your friends decide to set their list as public then that information can be seen.

– An activity log of everything you have ever done on Facebook is kept by the administrators. Note that this also includes things you have hidden from your timeline or previously your profile. Hiding does not delete a story and if you wish to do so you must click delete.

-Facebook Pages are public and as a consequence any information you share with a page is public and anyone, including those who do not have Facebook, can see it.

– Page administrators can invariably have access to information about people such as their age, gender and occupation; you have no control over this.

– If you use a Facebook application then you automatically grant the administrators access to the information you choose to make public, as well as information that is always publicly available. If the application needs additional information, such as your stories, photos or ‘likes’, it will have to ask you for specific permission before obtaining or publishing this.

-The first time you visit an app the makers find out your language, country, and general age. The categories are as follows: under 18, between 18-20, or 21 and over. Applications that you install on a device can update their records of your basic information, age range, language and country.

– If you choose to delete an ‘app’ they can still access your information if your Facebook friends are using the application. The only way to ensure your details are deleted properly is to contact the application directly.

– Your information can be given to companies associated with Facebook, in these instances the concerned parties must use the data in accordance with the Data Use Policy and the particular agreement that Facebook has entered into with them.

– The privacy policy states ‘We do not share any of your information with advertisers (unless, of course, you give us permission)’. However this does not mean that your information cannot be shared with the details that personally identify you being removed – another loophole in the policy.

– Advertisers are allowed to target categories for example ‘musicians’ or ‘potential car buyers’. If your information, including for example; check ins, statuses, liked pages or links suggests that you fall into a category then an advertiser is able to target you. You have no choice as to whether or not you are targeted.

– Pages that you like are called stories, people are able to “sponsor” your stories to ensure that your friends (however distant on Facebook they are) see them. Only people that could originally see the story can see the now sponsored story, and no personal information is shared with the sponsor.

It is a lot to take in and not something we necessarily think about in the age of constant digital sharing. But take this as a warning: be careful about how much information you are sharing, whom you are sharing it with and where it could eventually end up. George Orwell was not joking in his novel ‘1984’, he saw this coming; Big Brother truly is watching your every move.

BY: Yasmin Levy-Miller