With all the articles coming out about Facebook and privacy, I decided to download my own Facebook data and see how accurate it was.
(If you’d like to listen to a more in-depth breakdown of my assessment, check out the most recent episode of our the Analytive Podcast.)
When you download Facebook’s data on you, you get EVERYTHING.
Photos, videos, old posts, contact info, ads you’ve clicked, interests they’ve deduced, contact info, past relationship history, and lots of other things.
Now, for obvious reasons, I’m not going to share ALL my data with you, but I wanted to focus especially on the marketing side.
Here’s what’s shocking: From a marketing perspective, my Facebook data is OK at best.
For example, here are a few of the things they got correct:
- Political affiliation
- Religious affiliation
- Broad interests categories (web analytics, a list of brands and celebrities I follow, etc.)
So overall, I’d definitely feel good targeting myself with ads in those topics.
But there are also quite a few superfluous topics in there. For example, these are all listed in my interests, but I actually have zero interest in them.
- Ragamuffin Cat (I don’t even like cats!)
- The Beach Boys (Not on any playlist I currently have)
- Compact Disc (Do people still use these?)
- Midtown Atlanta (I’ve only been to ATL once in my life)
- University (I’m a graduate, but I’m not sure that I actually have any interest in this)
- Violence Prevention (I’m all for violence prevention, but I’ve not sure why I’d be uniquely targeted for this. And I’m certainly not an activist.)
- Shopping and fashion (I mean…I guess. But I spend less than $50 a month on clothes. So probably not the ideal market)
All these topics are completely irrelevant to me. Meaning if you target them, I’ll see your ads, but I won’t click.
Now for the most revealing part of the whole project: What’s missing?
There are dozens of relevant interests that simply aren’t showing up. Here are just a few:
- I’ve been shopping for a new pickup for about a year. No “pickup truck” or similar category appears. The closest is “automobiles” which is uselessly broad.
- Over the past year, I’ve listened to A LOT of country music and country artists (don’t judge!). But this doesn’t show up anywhere in Facebook.
- I’ve also flow so many miles on one airline that I’ve reach elite status. That airline isn’t listed. Neither is travel nor airlines or anything similar.
- I’ve done a ton of camping, hiking, and outdoor related activities. Camping, hiking, nor any other outdoor things show up.
- There are a ton of entertainers I follow (particularly on YouTube) that don’t show up.
And that’s just a handful. This is important data that I’d love if I wanted to target myself with advertising. But it’s not there.
Now, here are a few of the more creepy things from my data:
- Facebook listed me in past relationships with three girls. Only one was I actually in a relationship with. One I flirted with a bit. And the third one I don’t even know.
- Facebook gives me a list of all the advertisers that have my contact info. And there’s a LOT.
- Facebook lists all the people I’ve ever poked.
- Facebook has a TON of my contacts’ phone numbers. I’m not sure if this is from my contacts or from the Facebook profiles of said users.
Ok, now here is the most interesting part of all of this.
After reviewing my data, I’m convinced that Facebook has a great picture of Tyler the college student. Most of the data and interests that are relevant are at least 5-10 years old.
This could be because I’ve used Facebook less as I grow older. Or maybe I share less and engage less.
But the data just seems old. I’m not really the person Facebook thinks I am anymore.
Anyway, that’s my $0.02 on Facebook’s own data on me.
Have you downloaded your data yet? If so, do your findings align with mine?
If not, it might be worth giving it a shot.
Once you review, just hit reply and let me know if your findings are similar.
P.S. Get more awesome content like this weekly by subscribing to our blog. We seek to provide massive value and respect you deeply. We won’t spam you.