Following the Cambridge Analytica revelations about the disclosure of profile data for millions of users, Facebook is focusing on sound investigation into your data collection practices by the Federal Trade Commission. In a statement issued on March 26, FTC Consumer Protection Director Tom Pahl said that the FTC “takes seriously recent press reports that raise serious concerns about Facebook’s privacy practices.” Today, the FTC is confirming that it is opening a non-public investigation into these practices.”
The FTC investigation will focus on what data Facebook shares with third parties. But third parties are not the only thing that hopes to win “friends” and influence people on this social platform. Facebook collects a lot of information about users for use by its internal algorithms. Those algorithms govern who and what users see, who they recommend to “friend,” and other aspects of how our Facebook experiences are subtly (or sometimes not-so-subtly) shaped by advertisers and advertisers. another is using the platform.
As Ars reported, Facebook has pushed users to get access to SMS messages and calls with the Messenger and Facebook Lite apps under certain service provisions. “Keep up with all your communications in one place” by using the app as the default SMS app on Android phones, Facebook offers. Previous versions of the Facebook mobile application on Android (in versions of Android before 4.1) were able to read SMS and calls simply by asking for access to contacts, which Facebook has described as an automatic practice for applications. This allows Facebook to keep track of the time, length, and contact information for any call made or received by an Android device by transferring it to Facebook’s data centers. Facebook can also access metadata about text and multimedia messages sent via SMS.
Facebook says it does all this tracking with users’ consent. The requirements for that permission, however, can be confusing and misleading, although they have become more detailed over the past two years.
Tinfoil caps are not required
Some Facebook users have said that Facebook does more than collect metadata from messages. Individuals have told Ars of incidents when they have the content of text messages that almost immediately involve ads that appear on Facebook. These users said they saw ads that were specific to the locations or services discussed via SMS, but those topics were not the focus of Facebook posts or other Facebook content.
Other users reported that Facebook suggested friends after being in the same place as another person even though they had no friends or contacts in common—suggesting this was due to location data collected by Facebook. (Facebook has experimented with using location data for friend suggestions, but the company has said it does not use specific location data.) And there are many other cases of eerie coincidences in Facebook content, as some people even insist that Facebook is surreptitiously recording their conversations.
Maybe Facebook doesn’t need to go that far. Much of that momentum derives from the power of Facebook’s “social profile” database and the technology Facebook has developed to power its search features. Graph databases link “things” (people, products, needs, locations) with relationships, making it possible for algorithms to search for connections between different things to uncover a potentially hidden relationship or relationships. And features like logging into call and SMS data, SMS text streaming, data from sites that host Facebook ads or “like” and “share” buttons, and location data from mobile allows Facebook to make those kinds of connections dynamically, in real-time.
Those kinds of connections aren’t obvious to users who download archives of their Facebook data, but they are certainly suggested by parts of it. The “Advertising Topics” data contained in Facebook’s personal database include specific terms linked to my lifestyle: specific people I’ve interacted with, services I’ve viewed, website related to (“Kitchen” is a recent high rating , Thanks to searches related to repair programs), places I have visited or may be interested, and organizations that I whether related to or containing research interest.
These can be valuable to all kinds of organizations, including nation states; My Ad keywords of “Noam Chomsky,” “North Korea,” “US Department of Defense,” and the New York City and Baltimore Police Departments can be interpreted in all sorts of ways when taken together, for example.
Government and law enforcement agencies tap directly into Facebook’s rich store of data for just such reasons, and Facebook is legally obliged to allow them. The Intercept It is reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) used Facebook data to track suspects by collecting phone data and other information. Last fall, Facebook won the right to disclose when it disclosed user data under a warrant when the Department of Justice complete the execution of Non-Disclosure Orders for such licenses.
Google collects such data on users. You can relive your journey courtesy of Google Timeline with sometimes unsettling honesty: all the places you’ve gone with your Android phone, the routes you’ve taken, the photos you’ve taken along the way in a handy Google Maps format. Google algorithms and cookies track your searches and page visits to sites with Google and Doubleclick ads, and bots used to read the contents of your emails to deliver targeted paid ads for those services (Google has discontinued that practice).
All this data is collected, as with the Facebook collection, with implied permission. And as with Facebook, raw data is not directly readable by third parties (other than law enforcement agencies).
But the data that Google collects is significantly less direct and informative about individual relationships, relationships, actions, and thoughts. While Google has its own entity database technology among other “big data” systems used as part of its search and advertising services, it has yet to use that power in a way that mirrors Facebook’s global image.
Therefore, it is important to remember a basic fact when using any of these “free” services of Google, Facebook, Snap, Twitter, and the like: we the users are not their customers; we are their product.