Want to find out if you were one of the 50+ million Facebook profiles given to Cambridge Analytica and used in the last election cycle? I downloaded my Facebook data to see what they had on me and checked to see if my profile was on the list.
What I learned looking through my Facebook Data file
It was SHOCKING to find out the info about me was really, really…..boring. Sure, there were a few things that caught me off guard (like Facial Recognition settings and some weird Ad interests) but for the most part it was what I expected. I’m not a heavy Facebook user, but did feel some relief knowing how to check my Facebook data and confirming they don’t have detailed call or text history (like some Android users have reported)
For the most part, the data file is what you might expect – a long record on activity, posts, comments, videos and all the stuff you’ve done on Facebook. In my case – snooping on the success of high school friends I never talk to, posting amazing vacation photos and pretending it’s my everyday life and liking various posts from friends through obligation or genuine interest. Clicking through the long list of activity they had on me was more a reminder how much time I waste on the platform then it was a tell-all of my life’s secrets.
Facebook seems to have done what I would expect them too with my info – use it for advertising and try to market products that match my demographic and interests. It’s hard to really blame them when I voluntarily decided to use their free platform. If anything, I’m glad checking my Facebook data file served as a reminder of the real cost to ‘free’ apps and platforms – it may not cost money but it will cost you personal details or other private info.
The Facial Recognition part of Facebook’s data profile did get me a little weirded out. I assume they use this to spot me in photos or posts and let me know, but I ended up opting out of this after I noticed it in my profile settings. This was more personal preference on my part than broad recommendation for others.
It was very interesting to see what they thought my Ad Interests were and what advertisers uploaded lists with my information on it. Some interests were very accurate for me (Beer, WordPress) and others had me a bit puzzled (Tony Robbins, Christian Music??)
Most amusing was the info in the ‘About You’ part of my profile under ‘Friend Peer Group’ which simply stated: “Established Adult Life”. I’m still not sure if that amuses me because it is the most accurate 3 -word summation of my life or because it seems underwhelming (maybe I’m too boring to be a “Perpetual Risk Taker”, “Adventure Traveler” or other more exciting option).
In any case, I can’t control it and think I’m comfortable with it.
Instructions: How to Download Your Facebook Data File
Step 1: Login to Facebook
Step 2: Select ‘Settings’ from the top right Menu
Step 3: Select ‘Download a copy’ of your Facebook data below the General Account Settings
Step 4: Select ‘Create File’ Under the ‘New File’ tab
Step 5: Facebook will notify you when it is ready for download
Step 6: Select the ‘Download’ button under ‘Available Files
How to find out if Cambridge Analytica has your Facebook Data
Step 1: Login to Facebook
Step 2: Select the ‘Quick Help’ question mark icon in top right menu
Step 3: Type ‘cambridge analytica’ into the search box and select the first result that appears
Step 4: View messaging below to see if your Data was gathered
We hope this tutorial on downloading your Facebook Data is helpful and wish you the best in your Established Adult Lives 🙂