People Are Downloading Their Facebook Data And Are Horrified By What They’re Finding

The Cambridge Analytica scandal continues to roll on. As it does, people are becoming more and more aware of just how much data Facebook has on them.

One easy (yet slightly horrifying) way to see it all in one place is to request all of your Facebook data as a zip file. A lot of people have been trying this over the last week, and have been pretty shocked by how much of their information the tech giant has.

While most people would expect Facebook to have data on how they use the app, they’re a little shocked to discover it has access to everything from all the contacts on their phone to a record of every text message they’ve ever sent or received, even if they don’t use Facebook Messenger. But that’s not all Facebook has.

“They have plundered my phone. They have phone numbers of people who aren’t on Facebook,” British actor and writer Emma Kennedy wrote on Twitter

“They have phone numbers of household names who, I’m sure, would be furious to know their phone numbers are accessible. I’m appalled.”

Other Facebook users have had the same experience.

It would be easy to dismiss these as unusual cases where users haven’t set their privacy settings properly. But it does seem to be fairly typical. Developers and techies alike are reporting the same thing. Even people who claim to have their privacy settings locked down like Alcatraz during a visit from the President are finding that Facebook still has a lot of information on them stored away.

One developer from New Zealand downloaded his data, which he shared on Twitter. 

After creating script to record statistics of his cell phone records, he found Facebook had records of:

  • Over 700 distinct calls, with data on whether these were incoming, outgoing, or missed
  • The duration of each call 
  • 1,369 SMS messages, with data on whether they were sent or received
  • Both failed and drafted messages

Dylan McKay, who created the script, has made the code available on Github for anyone who would like to make sense of their own Facebook data.

But the amount of data Facebook has stored on you doesn’t stop there, unfortunately. Recently a news reporter checked out his own data.

“It included scanned copies of lease forms from a previous rental property I must’ve sent to my buddies over Messenger, my current tenant ledger report, an old monthly billing statement for my home broadband, screenshots of banking transfers and seemingly endless web pages of all the banal conversations I have ever had on the platform,” he wrote in the New Zealand Herald.

“It’s an odd feeling to think that, in some ways, Facebook knows you better than you know yourself.”

Your own data can be requested as a zip file here. Be warned, you might not like what you find.

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