Facebook Is Spying Your Pizza Orders, Searches & More: This Is How You Are Being Monitored
Facebook made news for the wrong reasons yet again in March when it leaked over 530 million of its users’ personal account details along with sensitive data such as phone numbers, addresses, date of birth, email addresses and more.
Facebook Has A Detailed File On You
Now, one Twitter user who found himself to have been one of those targeted in the data breach found out the true extent of Facebook’s reach into a person’s private internet and social life.
Twitter user Zamaan Qureshi decided to take a look at his privacy and data settings on Facebook.
Facebook provides an option for the user to download the data the company has on them, essentially a report on all the various ways and the various places it tracks its users.
It continues to shadow people even after they have logged out of Facebook.
He then captured and shared screenshots of the astonishing revelations brought forth by the “download data” option.
The download uploads multiple files categorised in appropriately named folders.
To be specific, Qureshi located a folder called your_off_facebook_activity and upon opening it he found evidence of a concerning amount of his online activities.
There were timestamps on online food orders placed, the outlet the orders were made from, visits to university websites, search queries- all activities outside the ambit of Facebook or any social media.
Some of these activities reached back into the past 3 years.
The tracking behavior described above is one Facebook has termed as off-Facebook activity.
You know how when you enter a new website that you are not a member of, but with a single click can log in via your Facebook account?
Off-Facebook activity facilitates that among several other user-convenient things we may not take a second look at in our fast-paced lives online.
Do It Yourself:
First, you might want to see if you have actually been affected by the breach.
A quick and handy online tool is the “Have I Been Pwned” website where you can enter your email or phone number and see whether it has been part of any mass leaks.
Navigate to the settings where you can find the download your data option.
Then rows upon rows show several hundreds of html and chrome page files.
One can simply click on any one which then redirects to a Facebook page titled “activity received from (website name)”
This is followed by “event” i.e. the specific activity performed such as “complete registration” and “received on” i.e. the date and time stamp.
Is There Any Solution?
There is an option to “turn off” future off-Facebook activity, but there’s a caveat.
Any services that you have joined with the help of your Facebook account will be untethered and you will no longer be able to log in to those with Facebook.
Another general advice would be to NOT browse Facebook on phone, especially Android, but on a web browser.
Facebook will still not completely let go of you since it will keep monitoring data which serves their advertising interests.
The only difference is that Facebook won’t be able to make the connection between your data trail and your Facebook account.
Facebook says they will “still receive activity from the businesses and organizations you visit”.
It might also be time for the general public to recognize Facebook for what it is these days- less of a social media giant, and more of a world-leading advertising-tech company.