“Privacy on the internet is a myth my friend”, said the 17-year-old boy in the famous Web series “TVF Pitchers”. Nowadays, tech giants like Facebook and Google have all our data and are the center of all our interactions with the internet. They know more about us than anyone else in the world. In fact, you can know yourself better after analyzing the data that they have.
Today, I’m going to tell you how you can see all the data that has been collected by the above-mentioned companies. Get ready to get your minds blown by the information they hold about you.
Let start the investigation:
Presently, as per the data from statista.com, Facebook as of the first quarter of 2018, had 2.19 billion monthly active users. With such a large number of people using the website, data collected is obviously going to be humongous. In that pool of data lie the drops of your data. Facebook allows us to download our data that it has collected since the inception of your account. Here’s a spoiler alert for you, what you will see is going to blow your mind (It did mine).
Let’s start the process of our own data extraction.
Step 1- Go to the desktop version of facebook.com and login to your account and go to “Settings” option.
Step 2- In the settings page, click on “Your Facebook information”.
Step 3- In the “Your Facebook information” page, you will see a “Download Your Information”, click on the “View”. A new page with the option to “Create File” will open, you can select the range of the period for which you want your data, the format, whether to be an HTML or JSON (I prefer HTML, you should too) and Media Quality. After this, click on “Create file” button on the right. File creation may take time, it depends on your data, the size of my data was 14MB and took 15-20 minutes. The time taken may change depending upon the volume of data.
Step 4- After the creation of data is complete, you will find the file under “Available files” tab with a download icon at the right side, just click on it and you will be asked to submit your password and after that your data will start downloading right away in a zip format.
Step 5- Extract the zip file and you will see all the folders, like this-
Step 6- You can open each folder which will contain an HTML file that will open in the Chrome browser and have all of your data.
Now, in front of your eyes will be all the data Facebook has collected till now. I would like to bring your attention to some of the specific data here that Facebook collects that you didn’t know about.
Firstly, in the “about you” folder, you will see a file called “your_address_books”. Open this file and you will come to know that Facebook has all the phone numbers you have stored in your mobile till now. It even has all the deleted numbers that you had in the past but no longer possess. This is a very useful data for all those who lose all of their contacts and put a Facebook status saying “Lost all contacts, message me”.
Now comes the bomb, have a look at the folder called “calls_and_messages”, Yes! you guessed it right, it contains all the calls and message details that you yourself allowed to share with Facebook. This is what happens when you give permission to all the apps to access your contacts. Like these, there are many folders with different information that you may want to see.
Google has been in our lives since the internet come and has been present since. Google is omnipresent in today’s day and age and almost all the work done by an individual through his smartphone has some role of Google in one way or another. A thing that is so much involved in our lives is bound to know us well. Google also has a large amount of data. Unlike Facebook, it is obvious that Google has so many details about us that it can easily create a clone of ours in no time.
If you ever what and how much Google knows about us then, you should go to history.google.com, here’s a glimpse of how it may look like-
It contains all the search details, all the websites you visited, all the YouTube videos you watched, and it even has a log of when you used WhatsApp. It also records the number of times you have opened a website.
So, all in all, it has many sources through which it collects your data and uses it to give us a personalized experience. Such data collection is the reason that we see ads that are often related to a product we searched.
As you can see how much data these sites have of ours. This data is mostly used for creating a better and more personalized experience for us. It is our choice whether we share the data or not.
So, what would you choose? A Convenient and better experience or Privacy of data?