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cheesemaker
cheesemaker

I highly recommend downloading your Facebook archive. One file you will find inside is:

advertisers_who_uploaded_a_contact_list_with_your_information.html

This is a very surprising and alarming file, but definitely worth examining. Also, you really should shut down your account…

AlanRalph
AlanRalph

@cheesemaker I looked through my downloaded Facebook data just now. Most of the names in there I recognise, but a couple of them are mysteries to me.

cheesemaker
cheesemaker

@AlanRalph I must not be very good at privacy because I have literally HUNDREDS of organizations/companies that I've never heard of or interacted with.

ronguest
ronguest

@cheesemaker For quite a while Google was the company that creeped me out the most - mining all email, searches etc. But then FB suddenly seemed to know things I couldn’t fathom. E.g. went to grocery store, bought a bottle of wine, that evening when I opened FB the first was for that exact brand and variety. I’d never bought it before nor seen a wine ad before on my feed. I am glad to have deleted my account, though I have zero trust anything was actually deleted.

smokey
smokey

@cheesemaker Yeah, this was the most confusing and disturbing file in my export; I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while. Nearly 2K worth of “advertisers”—realtors and auto dealers across the country, in places I’ve never gone or ever thought of going, conservative PACs, a few national brands, stuff I couldn’t even figure out what it was…only a couple I actually really knew of, and even then I don’t think they had any of my info. There are only 2 email addresses associated with my account—my Georgetown email, which I had to use at that time to join but otherwise was only used for receiving official email from the University, and the email I started using mostly with OSS projects and a few other things in the late 2000s.

It’s certainly possible that someone scraped that other email address from somewhere and then shared it widely, but I can also “link” bunches of the advertisers to friends, as in “that company seems local to Friend X, or a place where Friend X went on vacation—even if Friend X has never interacted with that company”.

So my thought is that, contrary to what’s implied in the name Facebook gave the file, these are all of the advertisers whose campaigns I was caught up in, but not necessarily because they had my email address or city; rather, the advertisers were allowed to target not only Person X who actually meets their target audience, but also “friends of (Person X who meets our target)” who clearly didn’t otherwise belong to the target audience and who they didn’t explicitly have any info for. // @ronguest @AlanRalph

AlanRalph
AlanRalph

@cheesemaker the thing is, the onus shouldn’t be on you to be good at privacy. That’s the cop-out that these companies use, to blame the person whose data they’ve scraped for not working harder to thwart their efforts. The small matter of your often not knowing they’re doing that in the first place is neither here nor there, it seems.

This will only stop when surveillance capitalism is dragged into the light of day and seen as the grubby and sleazy business it is.

DrOct
DrOct

@cheesemaker I deleted my FB account maybe... a year ago? I downloaded my data first but honestly haven't really looked at it, I just figured it'd be good to have. I'll have to check that out. That's pretty disturbing.

DrOct
DrOct

@cheesemaker Do you mind if a share a link to this post around? I think others would be interested as well.

cheesemaker
cheesemaker

@DrOct oh go right ahead. Thanks for asking!

DrOct
DrOct

@cheesemaker interestingly it looks like that file doesn't exist in my archive. Either I downloaded the wrong data before deleting my account, or they weren't including all that info in archives when I downloaded mine.