What Facebook knows about us?

Screenshot from 2018-03-23 12-23-07

Today I read very worrysome tweet from Dylan McKay that he found out that once he installed Facebook on his Android Smartphone Facebook is logging all his contacts, phone calls, time he talked etc private info which has nothing to do with Facebook service. This may be used for industrial espionage, who did you call and consulted before make a deal, or for target marketing – you called doctor, let’s show some medical service ads in your Facebook stream.

So I decided to see what Facebook knows about Olimex. In Settings menu you have Link Download a copy of your Facebook data. I downloaded it and as expected there is log of all pictures, posts, messages sent via the Facebook messenger, no matter if you deleted them or not.

Fortunately Facebook is not interested to log the phone calls for user accounts from Bulgaria as there is none such info in the downloaded zip, but there is *complete* list of all my phone and e-mail contacts! I changed recently my phone and my current phone contact list is shorter than this one logged in Facebook. There are contacts which I deleted long time ago, so once something is add to this contact list it’s not deleted even if you delete it from your phone.

The smartphones now are the perfect spy tools. This exceeds George Orwell’s imagination for what is possible in the future. We personally carry with us our own spy devices voluntarily.

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michael
    Mar 23, 2018 @ 17:21:37

    I found nothing to indicate they have my phone contacts or any phone data.


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Mar 24, 2018 @ 09:51:04

      Do you have FB installed on your phone?


      • Michael Monteith
        Mar 26, 2018 @ 16:05:29

        Yes. I have fb loaded on my phone. But there are settings you can change so that it doesn’t upload contacts, etc. I downloaded my fb data and saw that it didn’t have any contacts from my phone. That is if it’s honest of course.

  2. LinAdmin
    Mar 23, 2018 @ 17:32:33

    How can you know that Facebook sent you all data they gathered?


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Mar 24, 2018 @ 09:50:34

      Something must happen as months ago this option to download what Facebook knows about you didn’t exist. You are right no one knows what amount of information they really disclosure. In EU soon GDPR law comes in force and to comply companies which operate with private info should fully disclosure what info they collect and to let the customers know for what purpose they collect it. Then if the customer want may ask them to delete his info. Maybe FB prepare for this law by allowing customer to download the info FB has for them. In my file they also wrote to whom else they disclosure my info – Uber and Uber eat had access to it.


  3. Kadeve
    Mar 24, 2018 @ 10:29:28

    When visiting Berlin as a tourist, I also visited the headquarters of the Stasi, the secret police of former East-Germany. Various examples where shown of how the Stasi worked. For instance, a mole had made an organizational chart of a Christian sect. Today, you do not need a mole for that. You just look at the social graph of Facebook. Add to this the information one can obtain by correlating data from different mobile phones, different social networks. We are living in a brave new world.


  4. notzed
    Mar 24, 2018 @ 14:05:45

    I think it records sms stuff if you let the Messenger application ‘manage sms’ or whatever it keeps bugging you to do all the time. Wanting to “link to your addressbook” is pretty intrusive as well. Nothing ever gets deleted.

    It’s not giving you all the data they have on you either, just the stuff you explicitly gave them. I’d really like to see the advertising and visit graphs they collect – almost every page on the commercial internet has ‘like’ buttons and javascript which tracks you. Even if you don’t have an account. Use the network tracing tool in firefox and visit a page, facebook, google, twitter, quantserve, and others all get a look-in to see what you are doing. To make it work, tracking links to specific individuals right through to the checkout these days. And then there’s the phone trackers that snoop your physical movements in shops – which can also be linked together with this info, credit cards, etc. It keeps getting more intrusive, facial recognition is already being used as well.

    This is the business model for all of these companies – they make *billions* of dollars off it. All retail (chains) salivate over this sort of information.

    No idea how well the tracking prevention in firefox works but I guess at least it’s in there.


  5. Anton Somov
    Mar 24, 2018 @ 17:40:19

    Unfortunately, few of the facebook users have read Orwell’s 1984 prior to socialising themselves. Not a big difference with the other social networks.


    • zikzak
      Mar 30, 2018 @ 18:21:40

      After reading “1984” (years ago) I was so sad I never read it while at school.
      Why on Earth they do not give us to read that kind of novel instead of the dusty classics?
      Orwell’s novel is more of an openminder than any other book I read.
      And yet, like you, I see people enjoying Facebook and others then being surprised when the company is caught red-handed.


  6. banana boogey
    Mar 28, 2018 @ 14:12:49

    Well then, time to remove the facbook scripts on olimex.com. Same for google-analytics, although I concede you surely need an analytics service, but why not use matomo.


  7. T6vg04zt3uithitklyeheee6OTvYgv8dCv
    Mar 31, 2018 @ 20:01:38

    The best is to block the whole ASN of Facebook (AS32934) at the IP level AND all known DNS second-level domains (facebook.com, instagram.com), etc.

    (But yes, I don’t have a smartphone and as long as there is no viable OpenHardware / OpenSource option I won’t buy any…)


  8. Kaloyan
    Apr 01, 2018 @ 15:32:05

    When I last installed facebook app and Messenger app on Android 6.0 Marshmallow i was asked, “Do you want facebook to have access to… ” for everything that facebook can download from my phone. I answered no to questions about my contacts, SMS, and so on. I guess there is some kind of policy about user information, that can not be downloaded without the permission of the user. It’s another story do they download data even if the user says he doesn’t want to. And how people can prove it.


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