What are Facebook, Google etc. Collecting about us?

What does Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram collect about you?  Never mind WHY they say they collect them – the WHY can expand and change in a minute.  They don’t just store this info – they process and analyse it.   I have gone through what is on Facebook to find out exactly and cut out as much padding and unnecessary wording as possible.  Let’s face it, most of us lose the will to continue to the end on this stuff.  However, in light of things to come and new stuff they are rolling out this week, I really think you need be aware of how much individual and personal surveillance is going on.


Content, Communication, including when you sign up for an account, create or share content, and message or communicate with others.

  • photos, locations taken and dates, what you see through your camera (dodgy)
  • information about the people, Pages, accounts, hashtags and groups you are connected to and how you interact with them, who you communicate with the most or groups you are part of.
  • contact information if you choose to upload, sync or import it from a device (such as an address book or call log or SMS log history
  • the types of content you view or engage with; the features you use; the actions you take; the people or accounts you interact with; and the time, frequency and duration of your activities, how you use camera.
  • if you purchase a game or make a donation incl payment information, such as your credit or debit card number and other card information; other account and authentication information; and billing, shipping and contact details.
  • information others provide about you about you, such as when others share or comment on a photo of you, send a message to you, or upload, sync or import your contact information.
  • information from and about the computers, phones, connected TVs and other web-connected devices you use that integrate with Facebook.
  • Device signals: Bluetooth signals, and information about nearby Wi-Fi access points, beacons, and cell towers. (pin point location)
  • Data from device settings: information you allow us to receive through device settings you turn on, such as access to your GPS location, camera or photos.
  • Network and connections: information such as the name of your mobile operator or ISP, language, time zone, mobile phone number, IP address, connection speed and, in some cases, information about other devices that are nearby or on your network
  • Cookie data: data from cookies stored on your device, including cookie IDs and settings.
  • Information from partners.  Advertisers, app developers, and publishers can send us information through Facebook Business Tools. These partners provide information about your activities off Facebook—including information about your device, websites you visit, purchases you make, the ads you see, and how you use their services—whether or not you have a Facebook account or are logged into Facebook. For example, a game developer could use our API to tell us what games you play, or a business could tell us about a purchase you made in its store. We also receive information about your online and offline actions and purchases from third-party data providers who have the rights to provide us with your informatiom.
  • Face recognition:  to recognize you in photos, videos and camera experiences.
  • Your network can also see actions you have taken incl engagement with ads and sponsored content.  We also let other accounts see who has viewed their Facebook or Instagram Stories.
  • Public information – posts you have shared to Public can be seen by anyone, on or off FB, Instagram, including if they don’t have an account.  Public information can also be seen, accessed, reshared or downloaded through third-party services such as search engines, APIs, and offline media such as TV, and by apps, websites and other services that integrate with our Products.  In other words – once you share something to Public, it is anyone’s property.
  • when you share a post or send a message to specific friends or accounts, they can download, screenshot, or re-share that content to others.
  • When you comment on someone else’s post or react to their content, your comment or reaction is visible to anyone who can see the other person’s content, and that person can change the audience later.
  • People can share a photo of you in a Story, mention or tag you at a location in a post, or share information about you in their posts or messages.
  • People in your networks can see signals telling them whether you are active on Instagram, Messenger or Facebook, or when you last used them.
  • When you choose to use third-party apps, websites, they can receive information about what you post or share.  e.g, when you play a game with your Facebook friends or use a Facebook Comment or Share button on a website, the game developer or website can receive information about your activities in the game or receive a comment or link that you share from the website on Facebook. Also, when you download or use such third-party services, they can access your public profile on Facebook, and any information that you share with them. Apps and websites you use may receive your list of Facebook friends if you choose to share it with them.  Information collected by these third-party services is subject to their own terms and policies, not this one.
    New owner.
    If the ownership or control of all or part of our Products or their assets changes, we may transfer your information to the new owner.
  • Law enforcement or legal requests.

    We share information with law enforcement or in response to legal requests. We access, preserve and share your information with regulators, law enforcement or others:

    • In response to a legal request (like a search warrant, court order or subpoena) if we have a good faith belief that the law requires us to do so. This may include responding to legal requests from jurisdictions outside of the United States when we have a good-faith belief that the response is required by law in that jurisdiction, affects users in that jurisdiction, and is consistent with internationally recognized standards.
    • When we have a good-faith belief it is necessary to: detect, prevent and address fraud, unauthorized use of the Products, violations of our terms or policies, or other harmful or illegal activity; to protect ourselves (including our rights, property or Products), you or others, including as part of investigations or regulatory inquiries; or to prevent death or imminent bodily harm. For example, if relevant, we provide information to and receive information from third-party partners about the reliability of your account to prevent fraud, abuse and other harmful activity on and off our Products.

    Information we receive about you (including financial transaction data related to purchases made with Facebook) can be accessed and preserved for an extended period when it is the subject of a legal request or obligation, governmental investigation, or investigations of possible violations of our terms or policies, or otherwise to prevent harm. We also retain information from accounts disabled for terms violations for at least a year to prevent repeat abuse or other term violations.

They don’t just store this info – they process and analyse it.

Quite apart from any conspiracy theories around all this there are other consequences.  Years ago, I remember when surfing the net I could land anywhere and that really broadened my perspective.  Now with facebook, google and instagram learning what we search for and focus on – they feed us more or the same – lessening our chances of stumbling across something new.  Fine if you are researching a subject for educational purposes but not fine if e.g. you happen to be a bigot, racist, criminal mind or person with limited viewpoint – getting only served up content to back your already limited viewpoint, that is not healthy