In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal in 2018, Facebook released a privacy feature called “Download Your Information.” The tool allowed users to access all the data that Facebook had gathered about them since they created their account — or at least, they thought it was all the data. In fact, according to a recent blog post from privacy advocacy group Privacy International, the information Facebook shows these users is quite incomplete.
Privacy International researchers recently tested the tool and discovered that Facebook doesn’t provide users with a list of all advertisers who have uploaded their personal data. Additionally, the information provided about the advertisers themselves is limited, with just a name and no contact details. In other words, it’s basically impossible for users to get the full picture of how they’re being tracked and how their data is being used.
“This tool illustrates just how impossible it is for users to prevent external data from being shared with Facebook,” the watchdog organization wrote. “Without meaningful information about what data is collected and shared, and what are the ways for the user to opt-out from such collection, [it’s] just another incomplete glimpse into Facebook’s opaque practices when it comes to tracking users and consolidating their profiles.”
None of this is surprising, exactly; Facebook has a long tradition of trying to gather as much of our data as possible. Still, it’s disappointing that even the company’s privacy features are withholding information.
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