A few weeks ago my wife and I were discussing people we know that we haven’t heard from in more than a few years. She fired up Facebook and did a search. This person was from India, but was educated in the U.S. and settled in California. We found him easily enough but a Facebook photo indicated he had a new wife. That ended the search.
A week or so after that my wife was online again and checking out family photos on Facebook. The social media giant has a section which displays people you might know, usually connected someway somehow to someone you already know or have searched for on Facebook.
Indeed. Guess what happened?
Facebook began to display dozens and dozens and dozens of people from India as someone we might know because they were connected to our friends from India.
What’s going on?
To start, data tracking. Facebook knows who you search for, who you like, who follows you, who you follow, and all that information is gathered together and used to alter your behavior while you’re online.
Remember Cambridge Analytica? The company engaged Facebook (and other entities) and bought data to use, again, to alter online user behavior. The company often said they had as many as 5,000 data points that could be attached to more than 230-million Americans.
Facebook gathers information about their users, but also collects and filters information gathered from other sources, and while much of that data can be eerily accurate, sometimes it is just wrong. Use the Download Your Information tool to see what Facebook has gathered about you.
What gets gathered? The amount of information is staggering and ranges from basic information, likes, notes, posts, and privacy settings, to ad topics, ads clicks, and personal information including date of birth, family members, political and religious views, and much, much more.
Yes, it is scary.
Worse, that information is used by Facebook and advertisers to push mind and action altering information to your face in the hopes you will visit a specific advertiser, or click on a link to a political or religious website, or simply to manipulate your thinking and actions.
How is that good for the Facebook user?
Yes, I know. Advertising is what makes Facebook’s engine run, but the fuel is information gathered about users and then used against them to persuade and manipulate.
How is that good for anyone?
Thank you, Apple and Tim Cook, for rattling the saber so people may begin to question such tricks and understand what is going on.