All Of The Creepy Things Facebook Knows About You

Facebook knows more about your personal life than you probably realise. As part of the company's increasingly aggressive advertising operation, Facebook goes to great lengths to track you across the web. The company compiles a list of personal details about every user that includes major life events and general interests. For years, details have been murky about how exactly the social network targets ads — but the company has finally given us a glimpse into how the secret sauce is made. Image: Getty Images

Facebook published a new targeted ad education portal and updated its ad preference settings to make them easier for users to understand. The tools reveal all 98 personal data points Facebook uses to target adverting at you — and you wouldn't be wrong to feel a little uneasy about what Facebook knows and uses to sell advertising, though there's no evidence that anything nefarious is going on here at all. It just feels weird!

There are plenty of obvious characteristics that Facebook knows about its users, such as whether they're getting married, just returned from holiday or are about to have a baby. Most of that personal data is collected when people voluntarily post to Facebook or update their profiles.

But then there's creepier stuff that definitely isn't submitted voluntarily, such as the number of credit lines you have, whether you're an investor, what you invest in, whether you carry a balance on your credit card, whether you use coupons and whether you're likely to move.

Facebook explains its ability to gather this incredibly detailed personal information in a few ways. First, and most obviously, it tracks your activity on the site, your personal devices and your location settings. What's less obvious is that the company also tracks virtually every other website you visit.

As The Washington Post points out, Facebook knows every time you visit a page with a "like" or "share" button. It also gives publishers a tool called Facebook Pixel that allows both parties to track visits from any Facebook user. It also works with companies like Epsilon and Acxiom who gather information from government records, warranties and surveys, and commercial sources (such as a magazine subscription lists) to learn more about Facebook users.

By compiling all of this information, the social media giant can begin to make conclusions about whether you're likely to be a parent, married, an expat or intend to buy a vehicle. Then they sell you as a target to advertisers. The assumptions the company makes aren't always correct, but it doesn't matter. Facebook built a $US355 ($466) billion empire almost entirely on this information, and it doesn't appear to be going away any time soon.

If you're curious about all the data points Facebook is using to target ads to you, here's the full list:

  1. Location

  2. Age

  3. Generation

  4. Gender

  5. Language

  6. Education level

  7. Field of study

  8. School

  9. Ethnic affinity

  10. Income and net worth

  11. Home ownership and type

  12. Home value

  13. Property size

  14. Square footage of home

  15. Year home was built

  16. Household composition

  17. Users who have an anniversary within 30 days

  18. Users who are away from family or hometown

  19. Users who are friends with someone who has an anniversary, is newly married or engaged, recently moved or has an upcoming birthday

  20. Users in long-distance relationships

  21. Users in new relationships

  22. Users who have new jobs

  23. Users who are newly engaged

  24. Users who are newly married

  25. Users who have recently moved

  26. Users who have birthdays soon

  27. Parents

  28. Expectant parents

  29. Mothers, divided by "type" (soccer, trendy and so on)

  30. Users who are likely to engage in politics

  31. Conservatives and liberals

  32. Relationship status

  33. Employer

  34. Industry

  35. Job title

  36. Office type

  37. Interests

  38. Users who own motorcycles

  39. Users who plan to buy a car (and what kind/brand of car, and how soon)

  40. Users who bought auto parts or accessories recently

  41. Users who are likely to need auto parts or services

  42. Style and brand of car you drive

  43. Year car was bought

  44. Age of car

  45. How much money user is likely to spend on next car

  46. Where user is likely to buy next car

  47. How many employees your company has

  48. Users who own small businesses

  49. Users who work in management or are executives

  50. Users who have donated to charity (divided by type)

  51. Operating system

  52. Users who play canvas games

  53. Users who own a gaming console

  54. Users who have created a Facebook event

  55. Users who have used Facebook Payments

  56. Users who have spent more than average on Facebook Payments

  57. Users who administer a Facebook page

  58. Users who have recently uploaded photos to Facebook

  59. Internet browser

  60. Email service

  61. Early/late adopters of technology

  62. Expats (divided by what country they are from originally)

  63. Users who belong to a credit union, national bank or regional bank

  64. Users who investor (divided by investment type)

  65. Number of credit lines

  66. Users who are active credit card users

  67. Credit card type

  68. Users who have a debit card

  69. Users who carry a balance on their credit card

  70. Users who listen to the radio

  71. Preference in TV shows

  72. Users who use a mobile device (divided by what brand they use)

  73. Internet connection type

  74. Users who recently acquired a smartphone or tablet

  75. Users who access the Internet through a smartphone or tablet

  76. Users who use coupons

  77. Types of clothing user's household buys

  78. Time of year user's household shops most

  79. Users who are "heavy" buyers of beer, wine or spirits

  80. Users who buy groceries (and what kinds)

  81. Users who buy beauty products

  82. Users who buy allergy medications, cough/cold medications, pain relief products and over-the-counter meds

  83. Users who spend money on household products

  84. Users who spend money on products for kids or pets, and what kinds of pets

  85. Users whose household makes more purchases than is average

  86. Users who tend to shop online (or off)

  87. Types of restaurants user eats at

  88. Kinds of stores user shops at

  89. Users who are "receptive" to offers from companies offering online auto insurance, higher education or mortgages and prepaid debit cards/satellite TV

  90. Length of time user has lived in house

  91. Users who are likely to move soon

  92. Users who are interested in the Olympics, fall football, cricket or Ramadan

  93. Users who travel frequently, for work or pleasure

  94. Users who commute to work

  95. Types of vacations user tends to go on

  96. Users who recently returned from a trip

  97. Users who recently used a travel app

  98. Users who participate in a timeshare

[Washington Post]

Trending Stories Right Now