Photograph — Business Wire

The #deletefacebook movement in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal has led to more unpleasant discoveries about the social media platform with regards to the amount and calibre of data the platform collects from its users. As more users delete their accounts and get rid of the app for good, many are discovering that Facebook holds more data and knows way more about them than they expected.

These data includes address book contacts, calendars, logs of incoming and outgoing calls, every text message sent and received, audio messages sent and received, and all files sent and received, all outside Facebook. Typically, Facebook also has data of all your activities on the platform including login dates, time, location, and from what device.

All third party applications ever connected to your account remains and is stored so Facebook is aware of your hobbies, interests and activities outside the platform besides what you have expressly stated in your bio or profile. Consequently, these third-party apps have direct access to a significant amount of data from your account.

Have you ever tried to delete your Facebook account, only for you to be redirected or persuaded into deactivating it? The truth is while deactivating your account makes you invisible on Facebook, and details of your account invisible on the web, all your data remains on the company’s servers. However, users who insist on deleting their accounts are given the option to download a copy of their information from the platform. This copy of info is what has revealed the magnitude of data Facebook gathers.

Picture it, all the calls you’ve ever made and received since joining the social network, including their time and duration, and all those voice notes, texts, and pictures you’ve sent; all your metadata, Facebook has them all. Facebook is the real Big Brother, or perhaps Google is. You decide.

Once word got out on the extent of Facebook’s data harvesting, the company published a statement explaining the necessity of uploading contacts but also stating that it was optional. “This helps you find and stay connected with the people you care about and provides you with a better experience on Facebook. People have to expressly agree to use this feature”, it said.

“If at any point, you no longer wish to continuously upload this information, you can easily turn this feature off in your settings. You can also turn off continuous call and text history logging while keeping contact uploading enabled…While we receive certain permissions from Android, uploading this information has always been opt-in only.”

But users have come forward to debunk the company’s statement, saying that they were not explicitly pre-informed of the practice and that Facebook began logging their text messages and phone calls before notifying them. “While data collection was technically “opt-in,” in both these cases the opt-in was the default installation mode for Facebook’s application, not a separate notification of data collection”, Sean Gallagher writes for Ars Technica.

“Facebook never explicitly revealed that the data was being collected, and it was only discovered as part of a review of the data associated with the accounts … Facebook began explicitly asking permission from users of Messenger and Facebook Lite to access SMS and call data after being publicly shamed in 2016 over the way it handled the “opt-in” for SMS services.”

In the wake of this scandal, and seemingly never-ending discoveries, now is a good time for us to take a look at the terms and conditions and full data policy we agreed to when we created a Facebook account and installed the app, since it has become obvious that most of its features or services with the “opt-in” option were in default installation mode. Still can’t put yourself through the hassle of reading the small print? Here’s what you agreed to, summarised:

Permission to

  • Access to your contacts
  • Share your content
  • Monitor your behaviour
  • Store your banking details

Here’s what the Facebook app can do:

  • Read your contacts
  • Modify your contacts
  • Read your text messages
  • Read calendar events and details
  • Add or modify calendar events and send emails to guests without owners’ knowledge
  • Take pictures and videos
  • Access approximate location, network-based
  • Access precise location, GPS and network-based
  • Record audio
  • Read the contents of your USB storage
  • Modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • Read phone status and identity

Now that you are aware, what is your verdict; #deletefacebook or #idontcare?


Elsewhere on Ventures

Triangle arrow