Pretty Much Everything Related To You And Facebook Is Recorded In Your Facebook Permanent Record

from the never-to-be-deleted? dept

Thanks to European data privacy rules, some folks have successfully requested and received a detailed list of all the data that Facebook has kept about them. They’ve released a redacted version of the document for one person, which comes in at a hefty 880 pages. To be honest, nothing in this is all that surprising, but it does highlight just how much data Facebook ends up with and that it appears to not delete very much, if anything, ever.

The parts that seemed a bit questionable to me were things like recording every computer from which you’d ever logged in… as well as a list of all other Facebook people who have logged in from that same machine. I’m assuming they use this for security/anti-phishing, but it’s still a bit creepy to keep all that information. The other part that’s a bit strange is that Facebook keeps deleted messages. That’s a bit more troubling, since most people expect that when they delete things, they’re really deleted. Still, while a lot of people may make a big deal out of this, it still doesn’t seem particularly surprising or really bad. At best it’s just a reminder of how much info you’re giving out, and that Facebook is hanging onto… forever. Perhaps your “permanent record” is becoming a real thing.

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Comments on “Pretty Much Everything Related To You And Facebook Is Recorded In Your Facebook Permanent Record”

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blaktron (profile) says:


Its a free country, you can do just that.

But really… so? Your employer probably keeps much the same set of data on you, as does your cell phone company, your cable company, your credit card company, your government etc… data retention the day after data transmission started, and its not going to go away. There are enough technical reasons to keep everything that you will never convince them not to, even though that’s clearly not the main reason for it.

Notice its not kids freaking out about this, but the generation in power, so just wait 50 years and no one will care, and it will seem normal. When Rome introduced the census they had to send soldiers and quite literally put people to the sword to get their data, but soon towns just collected the information and sent it in.

Saba says:

Re: Re: FFB

Data retention is of course a reality that happens everywhere..i think the problem with FB is that ppl share PERSONAL stuff..u know..messeges to friends about the man u brokeup with that broke ur heart, etc..things like that that are beyond bank accounts or tracking where you are, when, which wud not be that big a deal for most ppl…i think kids are not freaking out coz they do not think of the further problems this cud cause..ur personal/emotional information change alot quicker than ur census data..& they are usually things u dont want retained anywhere..

blaktron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: FFB

I personally think there are 2 forms of constant everpresent data retention and personal tracking:

1) the Big Brother version, where its used to control you and make sure you stay in line, or

2) the Star Trek version, where its used to beam you out of a dead end situation, or access anything, anywhere.

The problem isnt the data retention, its the use of that data. The data is simply a tool, it is neither good or bad. Having that mountain of personal data in 20 or 30 years will be stupendous, I will be very glad that so much of my personal correspondence with friends and relatives will be archived forever. However, the misuse of that data could be catastrophic and we must be VERY careful that it remains safe from prying eyes. I believe that unless Facebook goes south in a bad way, they will have stupendous security for the foreseeable future, so that really only leaves the law and facebook itself as possible threats. So they need to be open about what they do with it, and it seems that ever since Beacon they have been. Let’s hope that doesn’t change, because the government is threat enough…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: FFB

It certainly makes it easier for them to find your fears (like Winston and the rats from 1984) and people will often do what you say if their friends/family are threatened.

Will thousands of pages of personal fb data be admissible to criminal and civil courts to peruse for motive or mentioning illegal activity?

Anonymous Coward says:

This is exactly the reason I want pseudonyms on every network. There is a high potential that for any data posted the Internet is a WORM storage device; write once, read many. No destructive over-writes allowed either since everything might be (likely is) versioned.

Pseudonyms are thus necessary for pessimistically establishing fragments of your identity and reputation relative to specific contexts.

I suppose the biggest demand for new ‘work’ in relation to that would be the peer review and human filtering of new community members; anything else would just be reputation within the community as a commodity.

Cody Jackson (profile) says:

Minimal FB user

I have an FB account but I rarely use it. I mostly have it just to find old high school friends and for networking purposes. Of course, with LinkedIn, Google+, et al., there is little need to have an FB account for networking.

I guess the big question is: what is FB doing with all this data? Selling it, using it for data mining, improving the user experience? I can’t help but think that there is a sinister, ulterior motive for keeping deleted items.

Best practice is to simply anticipate that FB and other sites are a “permanent record”, except that most of the information is what you provide. Thus, think twice about what you post and question if there’s a possibility for it to come back and haunt you.

John Doe says:

The more I find out about Facebook, the closer I am to deleting my account

I know they keep a lot of stuff, but to keep everything you have ever entered is bad. Even if you don’t want to enter data about yourself, your friends are doing it. I have a brother that marked me as his brother and friends that have added my high school and year of graduation and my current employer. This is not info I wanted to put out there but now its there. They are very quietely gathering every piece of info on you that they possibly can. And now you know it is never, ever deleted.

Sarah Black (profile) says:

Re: The more I find out about Facebook, the closer I am to deleting my account

Being sparse with your Facebook information could give the impression that what is entered must be correct. But being abundant with what is entered & and including all sorts of wild things such as attending Schools in far-off places and hanging with royalty and saving small kittens from burning trees and donating your money to the expansion of teleportation, gives the impression that what is posted could OR could not be quite so accurate.

Make things believable and people will believe. Make things unbelievable, and people may not.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

As everyone should always remember...

Of course Facebook will retain (and sell) every scrap of data it can. Of course Facebook employees with access to the data will make their own side deals. Of course Facebook’s incompetent security guarantees that attackers will avail themselves of whatever they want, whenever they want — and already have — and will sell it, trade it, whatever on the open market. Of course Facebook will lie, lie, lie about all of this whenever it can.

LyleD says:

Not just Facebook...

What people should be more concerned about is it’s not just FB that has all your information.. Your rather questionable government also has full access and you can bet they’re using it now to fill out some of the blanks in your ’employee’ profiles and everyone else in the world…

There’s a reason no self respecting privacy advocate uses Facebook!

Anonymous Coward says:

It is all about advertising

They use all of that data to find similarities between their users. They use those similarities to do targeted advertising. If someone else with a profile like yours buy product A then you will also be targeted for product A.

Sites like fb that have huge numbers of users across every demographic you could think of can get more out of advertising if they can figure out what you are interested in. As a dumb example, say they want to show ads for feminine hygiene products, if 50% of their users are men then 50% of the time the ad is a total waste. But if they can determine if you are male or female then they can make much better use of the available ad space.

Sites like Facebook, Google and even Techdirt are far from ‘free’. You pay via online advertising. By virtue of visiting the site you give up certain behavioral data. If you contribute something to the site you can give up a lot more.

This all seems a bit creepy and unwanted. But we would not visit these sites if we did not perceive some benefit. Of course everyone has some kind of ads they do not care to see (hello ad blockers). Would the ads really be so bad if they were always relevant to you, for things you cared about? I think that is what companies like Google and Facebook aim to achieve (even if they don’t quite get there).

Anonymous Coward says:

Did people know that photo cameras can record sound?
They also can record GPS coordinates and other EXIF data.

Your cellphone gives out your location, your phone provider has a vast amount of data collected.

People who own business can do a credit check on anybody and you would be surprised by what credit card companies and banks supply others with.

Stores collect data, the government, car manufacturers, insurance companies, hospitals and practically everybody even your neighbour which may have installed some security cameras.

CJ (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And I am one of those neighbors with security cameras. Proud of it too. The camera can tell the truth better than word of mouth. It can also give information that the police would not ever have. ID the bad guy, and if I am lucky anyone else involved in the crime. These cameras are easy to install and set up if you run a business get one, if you live in a neighborhood that has had a string of thefts get one. I don’t care if your just walking up the sidewalk, or double parking, I just want the added security in knowing in the end I have a good chance on catching the real bad guys doing bad things.

AZ says:

Re: Re:

Strawbear: You do realize that these utterances can allow someone to draw your psychological profile? The manner you speak (or write), the words you use, the length of your sentences, your tone, whether or not you make paragraphs, etc. tell a lot about your personality and psychology. This info can also be used to connect two separate internet profiles you might have.
Your psychological profile can also be used for more than just knowing you. It can be used to manipulate you (easy to do once someone knows how you react to various things).

I confess that I sometimes draw people’s psychological profiles on the Internet. So trust me when I say I know what I’m talking about. I do it as an exercise, for fun and practice (I don’t keep any records and I don’t even use the info I find in any way).
I randomly pick a guy on a forum or comments and I try to figure out who they are in real life, just by using the Internet (and no hacking involved – my purpose is to prove that there’s more publicly available data about us than we think).
When I need more information, I use what I know of their personality to get it. I speak with them in a manner that will make them reveal more about themselves. They don’t have to reveal a name. A personal experience that they mentioned on another website is enough for me to connect two of their profiles on separate websites.

For example, I once was looking to find out more about a guy (let’s call him Mr. X) who was active on a Star Trek forum. I found another profile with similar personal info on another Star Trek forum (same age, state, and very similar personality (or psychological profile)).
I wasn’t sure it was the same person so I looked at his posts on both forums and on forum 1, I found a personal experience he described. It was an anecdote about how his home was broken into one day when he was a child. There were enough details that no two people would have the exact same anecdote.
So I went to forum 2, found a recent discussion topic where he was active, and engaged the guy in a debate. I steered the discussion until it became appropriate for him to mention that anecdote. Soon, Mr. X from forum 2 mentioned the exact same anecdote as Mr. X from forum 1, including the tiny details that made that experience unique to him. Now I knew I had my guy, and I could be certain that any info I got about Mr. X from forum 2 could be tied from Mr. X from forum 1.

I can also play around with people. Once I establish their psychological profile, I can make them angry, upset, laugh or smile faster than anyone else could. I know what they react to and how they react. I could make a guy with an established reputation as a nice and patient person suddenly appear to have anger management issues.

Any information is too much information. Even your posts about hating Facebook are too much info, don’t underestimate that.

The best defense against data collectors? Disinformation.
Do crazy and weird google searches on a regular basis. Preferably the same searches each time. Make Facebook think you like some strange stuff. The worse it is, the better. For instance, pretending to have a weird sexual fetish is very effective. Watch adult movies about that fetish online if you have to (well, actually play them in the background while you do other stuff).
How does it work? You should have no trouble proving that you don’t like whatever you were pretending to like. Once someone goes public with info they collected about you, you can ridicule them for having info unlikely to be true, such as that fetish we were speaking of above. “Hey, I really don’t find cars sexually arousing. In fact I don’t even have a car! And I hate racing! Anybody who knows me can tell you that!”.
If the worse dirt they have on you is a lie, people won’t believe the rest of the dirt. And whoever has the dirt won’t know themselves what is right and what is wrong. It’s a technique that works.
You can even openly say “Yes, I watched those movies. It was part of my strategy to disinform data collectors, I did it on purpose. Now when they gather data about me, they don’t know if it’s true or not”. And be open about it to your relatives “Once a week I visit websites I don’t care about just to throw off google. From cooking websites to the KKK”.
You know how Michael Jackson was accused of being a child molester? Whoever believed the first time that the accusations were false would believe all future accusations are false. Whoever thought he was guilty the first time just because some people accused him… they’re the kind of person you shouldn’t care what they think of you anyway.

Personally, I even set up my computer to connect automatically to several websites while I’m not home. A few times I made sure to be filmed or photographed in public, so as to have proof that I wasn’t home and couldn’t have visited the websites my computer connected to. And I’m open about it: “Yes, I visit often websites I don’t care about just so nobody can know what websites I truly like”.
Note: don’t visit illegal websites (obviously). Just stuff that morally offends most people. You want the data collectors to have very nasty dirt on you, then prove to everyone “Hey, they’re lying! So, if they made up that car fetish, do you trust them when they say I suffer from bipolar disorder?”. That’s the best kind of disinformation and the best defense.

The best part? If enough people do the same, we could kill facebook in just a few months. They wouldn’t be able to sell the data they collect for as much as they sell it now. Just to tell you how vulnerable these companies really are and how much they depend on us and our honesty.

And to sum up my concerns regarding my privacy: I don’t have much to hide. I don’t think there’s anything I’m ashamed of. I just don’t want some big corporations knowing when I go to bed, when I wake up in the morning, when I brush my teeth, what I have for breakfast… Separately, this information is meaningless. Put together, it’s like somebody is watching me 24/7. Somebody I don’t get to watch myself. It feels good to be alone, to have time when you know nobody will even know whatever you’re doing (even if you’re just reading a book) and I think people who don’t understand this are the ones who have some issues.

I just like to be alone, it’s the way I am, and there is nothing more to it. Now move along and give me some privacy.

anonymous says:

i dont like my data/personal info being held by governments without my permission but do see the need for some of it sometimes, depending on what that info is, to be retained. however, when government agencies manage to frequently lose that info, what chance is there of FB doing any different? their security is something of a joke, by all accounts. i dont agree with my info being held by any private company, whether for ever or temporarily and definitely dont agree to that info being passed to others, especially for their gain.

Butcherer79 (profile) says:

Are you trying to tell me that my scanned birth cirtificate, driving license & bank statements are NOT safe on FB!?!?
I’ll just go on there and delete them then… oh, hang on, so if I delete them they become MORE obvious? This could be time to release my second identity and completely kill off all that is(was) me…

Or I’ll probably still be the trusting schmuck that I am and hope nobody’s that interested in a 32yr old average Joe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Facebook data request

If you’re in Europe, you can request Facebook send you a CD with all of your information on it. Maybe if enough people swamp them with requests, they’ll stop keeping so much information to keep costs low. That’s probably just wishful thinking on my part, but hey, you’ll have a CD with everything Facebook has on you, might be worth a look.

This is the article on how to do the request and this is the direct link to the form

Trencher says:


I’m Paranoid of Paranoid people… come on! YOU’RE putting this info on your profile and you expected it to be kept to you and just you? I really don’t know what most of you are afraid of anyways… Unless your posting your credit card info, social insurance/security number or the names of all your mistresses on your facebook account then what are you so afraid of? Are you afraid someone from Facebook is going to know you friended your grandmother 2 years ago after posting silly pictures of your cats?.. Like come on. People who have privacy concerns tend to have things to hide.

aikiwolfie (profile) says:

The concept of a permanent file compiled by a privet company is troubling. Facebook as quite a few questionable corporate connections. However what concerns me the most is what Facebook does with privet messages from their chat feature. Facebook has not legitimate legal reason to want to keep most of what they seem to be collecting.

I imagine the information will be sold on to data mining companies. It’ll be used for targeted marketing. This makes me glad I don’t use Facebook quite so much any longer. Although I do use Google+. And Google have been caught in the past collecting information they had no right to collect.

One positive aspect of the amount of data Facebook is collecting is that it’s way too much for a person to go through manually. At least the voyeurism will be automated.

Unknown Unknown says:

Who cares what they record anyway, should think twice before you write anything down anyway whether its on Facebook or whatever. I remember someone telling me that depending on what we say represents what is in our hearts. Maybe they just using that information to just try to understand more about people or for whatever security reason. I don’t see anything wrong with that I would have done the same.

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