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How Facebook Knows More about Your Personal Network than You Do

Facebook does a lot of creepy things, like recommending that someone befriend their father’s mistress or connecting a couple with their anonymous sperm donor from years before. But how does Facebook tease out such obscure connections? Gizmodo investigated and traced Facebook’s behavior back to what’s known as “shadow contact information” — a secret database that Facebook keeps to track everyone you might know. It collects much of this information from other users who share their address books with Facebook, so if two otherwise unrelated people both have your phone number, the company can then connect them. Alas, there’s nothing you can do about this.favicon follow link


Comments about How Facebook Knows More about Your Personal Network than You Do
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"Alas, there’s nothing you can do about this."

I strongly disagree. Nobody is forced to use Facebook. Don't sign up in the first place and if you did, leave and have them delete all your info. It's that simple.

The only thing that would get Facebook to change its behavior is voting with your feet. The ongoing whining about evil Facebook by people that are entirely addicted to that very network is IMHO preposterous.
"preposterous"? How about hypocritical? However, the recent remarks from one of the developers of FB lend an excuse that those tears were caused by psychological tricks. FB, et all are simply businesses, but most 'users' (ironic as that term is) think they are 'customers'. I fear those users will never understand that they are the companies PRODUCT! They are not selling us anything, we are providing them with the real product that they sell to anyone who will pay for it, apparently, that includes some foreign governments.

Does anyone have proof that "deleting" an account actually destroys the data? I seem to remember some text saying that should I ever return, all my info would instantly become available... I can only hope that my memory is not as good as theirs. 8+|
David  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-11-20 11:58
If (rather than protesting to the companies involved) we give up on every business that does something we don't like, pretty soon we're not going to be able to do anything at all.
Nonsense. Facebook is well aware of all the criticism. It's laughable to assume their customers haven't already plentifully voiced their concerns. But as it stands, Facebook believes it can simply ignore such criticism because it's not hurting their bottom line. And until now, they have been right. What some people (like myself) propose is to change exactly that.

In a free market system demand incentivizes supply. We vote with our feet and our $. We should excessively make use of that freedom.
Michael Lever  2017-11-21 02:42
For years I would cease remaining a customer of any business that annoyed me for any reason. When I told a friend about my attitude he said the same as you. But I didn't let him influence me into becoming accommodating. What I was finding is that whenever I moved on, there was either a substitute business or I realised I could do without that particular product or service.

I am not on FB but according to the article I probably am. It doesn't help that in many on-line newspapers and forums they say to go to their FB page for more information and chat. By the sound of it any media that refers to FB (why the capitals?) is likely to provide rich pickings for data mining.
David  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-11-22 10:15
I'll raise your "nonsense" with a "don't be silly." You're not Facebook's customer -- the advertisers are. You flouncing out of Facebook is going to do zero to their bottom line; there are simply too many other people using the service for you to make a difference (and no, you're not going to start a social movement at a scale that would have an effect).

Loud protests and complaints that make the advertisers uncomfortable enough to complain to Facebook *will* have an effect though (as is evidenced by the complaining over the ethnic targeting of ads by FB's algorithm. It wasn't mass defections by people that drove facebook to apologize, but that their advertisers got unhappy).
Ian Turnbull  2017-11-20 11:33
Whilst I understand what Simon is saying and the ethos behind his comments, many of us use FB in a non-addictive way to keep in touch with friends & colleagues, many of whom live in other parts of the country or abroad. Yes, we all sign up and agree FB's policy; but it is worrying that so much interrogation of us goes on in the ways outlined in the article. Basic rule: never post what you wouldn't be happy to read on the front page of your local newspaper.
Mark Chaffin  2017-11-20 13:46
Perhaps that basic rule should be expanded to include hostile foreign governments, corporations that want your data in order to market to you more effectively, registered sex offenders, unregistered sex offenders, your ex-spouse, anyone who feels they have a grievance against you, the get the picture.