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What does Facebook know about you?

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You know that Facebook is embroiled in a massive privacy row. But among the news about what happened, who knew what, and what is still to be revealed, it's important to look at WHY this data breach matters to ordinary people here in the UK.

What data does Facebook hold?

Lots. In fact, much, much more than most of us were aware. To access your Facebook data archive, go to your settings and click on 'Download a copy of your Facebook data'.

Here is just some of the data Facebook might hold on you (depending on your permission settings):

  • Your profile details including your age, gender and education
  • Your telephone number and email address
  • Your likes and your friends' likes
  • The websites you visit
  • Which events you've been invited to (and whether you accepted or declined the invitations)
  • Your political leanings
  • Your travel habits
  • Your relationship history
  • Every single person you've ever been a friend with on Facebook, including requests sent, denied requests and removed friends
  • Which ads you have clicked on (how often and when)
  • Which advertisers have your details
  • Every single contact on your phone, including ones you no longer have
  • How many times you've contacted every person whose contact details you've kept in your phone. This includes calls and texts made through your cellular network which have nothing to do with Facebook
  • Every single message you have ever sent via its platform
  • Every picture you've ever shared or received.

Why should you care?

Maybe you don't care that Facebook has access to all this info. And, if the social media giant could 100% guarantee that this data was being kept safe, that might be okay. But the latest breach shows that Facebook has already put this data at risk due to poor internal processes. So, how can we be sure that this won't happen again? And what is being done with the information already out there?

What criminals can do with your data

We already know that Facebook is under investigation, and that our data might have been used to influence how some of us voted in the Brexit campaign. And, if true, the manipulation of our democratic processes should be horrifying to everyone.

But even for those of us that aren't political, we should be very worried about what could happen if this massive amount of data got into the wrong hands.

Cybercrime is on the rise, and according to research, hackers stole or compromised an estimated £20.2bn worth of records from businesses last year. While people of any age can be victims of identity fraud, the risk increases if you share information on social media. Even a normal, accessible profile can be used by criminals.

Check out this video by fraud prevention service Cifas to see how easy it is.

How private is your data?

Victims of ID fraud might have no idea that it is even happening until it is too late. Signs that your identity has been stolen include:

  • Bills or emails showing goods or services you haven't ordered
  • Unfamiliar transactions from your account
  • An unexpected dip in your credit score

Take action now!

But what can you do to protect yourself and your data? Make sure you review your privacy settings on Facebook and all other social media channels. In particular, find out which apps have access to your Facebook data.