What Does Facebook know about you?

Facebook data mining
  Reading time 6 minutes

What Does Facebook know about you?

Facebook collects information about you in a variety of ways, mainly by:

  • Tracking your activity on its site and family of apps, including posts, comments, messages, reactions, etc
  • Tracking your activity on apps you’ve logged into using your Facebook credentials
  • Tracking your engagement with the Facebook plugin installed on third-party sites

With-in Facebook itself, the information that they are tracking on you is amazing (click on the image on the right). Obviously, they are tracking any information that you have provided to them. This includes detailed information about the devices you use to connect to Facebook. If you follow the below steps you can access and download the information that Facebook keeps on you. It will be a large file, in a compressed format (zip). When you decompress it, it will be in a web page-like set up so you can easily see what they have on you. This is every “like” you made, every comment you made, every post, every photo, every contact, every purchase, every ad you click on, and every detail. I recommend doing this on a PC/Mac instead of on a mobile device.

  1. Log on to your Facebook account
  2. Click on your account button (upper right corner)
  3. Click on Settings & Privacy
  4. Click on Settings
  5. Click on Your Facebook Information
  6. Click on Download Your Information

How Do I Control The Information Facebook Has on Me

Every setting below will be in from the Your Facebook Information page unless annotated

  1. Log on to your Facebook account
  2. Click on your account button (upper right corner)
  3. Click on Settings & Privacy
  4. Click on Settings
  5. Click on Your Facebook Information

Off-Facebook Activity

Off-Facebook activity is a summary of activity that businesses and organizations share with us about your interactions, such as visiting their apps or websites. They use our Business Tools, like Facebook Login or Facebook Pixel, to share this information with us. This is Facebook tracking your shopping and travel habits. According to Facebook, when you search for something online or even go into a brick-and-mortar store to make a purchase, that company shares your information with Facebook. Once Facebook receives this information, the company uses it to send more personalized advertisements to your News Feed.

This information alone is mind-blowing, for me, they had 995 items going back to September 2019 (the last time I cleared my history)

There is some control you have the ability to modify,  you can clear all the history and you can turn it off, that is about it.

From the Your Facebook Information page, click Off-Facebook Activity, then click Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity, then click Manage Future Activity. From here you can turn off Future Activity and you can also see the activity that you’ve already turned off by clicking Activity You’ve Turned Off.

If you click Turn Off Other Activity at the very bottom, you can manage what you have turned off and turn off others that you haven’t.


You do have decent control over what ad Facebook displays to you. Facebook makes most of its money off of Advertising, so you can bet that they have a vast advertising network. After all, it is all about the Benjamins. The below advertising settings are from the following location.

  1. Click on Settings
  2. Click on Privacy Shortcuts
  3. Click on Ad Preferences
  4. Click on See Your Ad Setting

From here you have the ability to see Data about your activity from partners, which Facebook describes as personalized ads based on your activity on other websites, apps, or offline.

You can turn off Use Data from Partners by sliding the slider

You can control Categories used to reach you, which Facebook describes as “profile information, interests and other categories used to reach you, to include your Employer, Job Title, Education and Relationship Status. Advertisers can reach you based on interest categories and other categories that we associate with you.” You can remove what categories Facebook uses to find you. Some of mine are pretty damn funny, like a Litter box and Timeshare (we have several cats, so I must have looked at some litter box invention and I was trying to figure out how to sell my late mother-in-law’s timeshare), they had a good 500-600 interest categories for me and I would say that 10-15 are worth keeping, meaning something I might click on.

You also have the ability to control Audience-based advertising, which Facebook describes as “Advertisers can choose to show their ads to certain audiences. You may see ads because an advertiser has included you in an audience based on your information or off-Facebook activity. Advertisers can use or upload a list of information that we can match to your profile to show or exclude you from seeing certain ads.” There were a good 150 companies on my list, but I wouldn’t really visit or patronize most of them.

You also have the ability to control Ads shown off of Facebook, which Facebook describes as “we show you ads off of Facebook Company Products, such as on non-Facebook websites and apps that use our advertising services. Like with ads on Facebook, advertisers can select categories of people who they want to see their ads off of Facebook.”

To learn more about the data that Facebook uses and how they use it, click here

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