Most savvy Facebook users understand that the social media giant traffics in our data. The things you tell the site help it target advertising to you, and thus make more money. However, according to a bombshell report from ProPublica this week, Facebook is also buying your private data from third-party brokers. The information it buys includes financial data like your income, credit card usage, and even what kind of restaurants you like to frequent.
Facebook has admitted that it obtains user data “from a few different sources,” though the vast majority of users don’t understand exactly what that means. According to the report, Facebook gathers “detailed dossiers” from third-party data brokers on users’ offline lives. The site says that it doesn’t fully disclose this to users because all of that information is already available — but that excuse doesn’t pass muster with some experts.
“They are not being honest,” Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, told ProPublica. “Facebook is bundling a dozen different data companies to target an individual customer, and an individual should have access to that bundle as well.”
Facebook can’t get its hands on enough data, so it’s not surprising that it actually purchases more of our private info. But it’s still troubling that the site seemingly tries to hide that fact from users.