You probably know that Facebook collects and stores your personal data and preferences to form a profile that it uses to generate advertising content targeted directly at you. But did you know that Facebook also looks at all the other websites you visit and stores that data, too? Facebook also collects your online search data along with some of the details you give to retailers when you purchase something.
Facebook and the data brokers
Zuckerberg and his Facebook shareholders make huge amounts of money by partnering with what are known as “data brokers.”
Bruce Schneier, a data security expert, defines data brokers as entities which:
“collect demographic information: names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, gender, age, marital status, presence and ages of children in household, education level, profession, income level, political affiliation, cars driven, and information about homes and other property. They collect lists of things you’ve purchased, when you’ve purchased them, and how you paid for them. They keep track of deaths, divorces, and diseases in your family. They collect everything about what you do on the Internet.”
This information is used to target advertising to individuals, but many see it as an illegal invasion of privacy. One of the charges against Facebook is that it deliberately tries to hide the extent of its data mining. Very few people actually read the terms and conditions when they sign up to Facebook, and even those who do typically don’t have a real understanding of what the privacy policies actually mean.