What Data Does Facebook Really Collect from You? A Comprehensive Guide

Get insights into Facebook’s data collection practices, how they affect you, and learn effective strategies to enhance your data privacy.
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You may have wondered what data Facebook collects from you as it weaves itself into the fabric of daily social interactions for billions. You’re not alone.

Beyond its role in building global connections, Facebook presents substantial privacy concerns. Luckily, effective methods are available to help minimize data exposure, allowing you to enjoy Facebook's connectivity benefits while protecting your privacy.

Learn more about our recommended VPN providers and the best data removal services to enhance your data privacy as we uncover what Facebook does with the data it collects.

In this article
What data does Facebook collect?
What data does Facebook collect outside of the website?
How does Facebook collect data?
What does Facebook do with the data it collects?
How to limit how much data Facebook collects on you
Facebook data collection FAQs
Bottom line

What data does Facebook collect?

Facebook extensively collects data across many categories, ensuring that every click, like, and interaction contributes to a large database. This process is very important for the social media giant’s operation and service enhancement.

Here are the types of information Facebook collects:

Content and communication

Facebook stores the content you generate, such as:

  • Text posts
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Messenger chats

This includes the metadata associated with this content (e.g., location tags in photos or creation dates).

Sensitive personal data

Users may provide sensitive details such as:

  • Religious beliefs
  • Political opinions
  • Health information

Facebook asserts that it handles such sensitive personal data with heightened protections under applicable laws.

Networks and connections

Facebook tracks data regarding the people, pages, groups, and hashtags you connect with, including any contact information uploaded from mobile devices. This helps Facebook tailor your network interactions more precisely.

Usage details

Facebook analyzes your interaction with the platform, including:

  • What content you view
  • Which features you use
  • How frequently you engage with the services

This information is crucial for Facebook’s data collection, which aims to personalize user experience.

Transactional information

All financial transactions made within the platform, such as purchases or donations, are recorded, including detailed payment information.

Device information

Facebook collects technical details about the devices you use to access its services, including:

  • Hardware models
  • Operating system versions
  • Settings like GPS data (which help in providing location-specific content)

What data does Facebook collect outside of the website?

Facebook gathers significant amounts of data from outside its own services to enhance and personalize user experiences. Here's an overview of the external data Facebook collects:

Data from devices

Facebook collects a variety of device-related information, such as the following:

  • Device attributes: Operating system, hardware versions, battery level, storage space, and browser details.
  • Device operations: User behaviors like application usage and mouse movements.
  • Identifiers: Unique device and application identifiers.
  • Device signals: Nearby Bluetooth signals and information about Wi-Fi access points.
  • Settings data: Information such as GPS location, camera, and photo library access enabled by the user's device settings.
  • Network information: Data like mobile operator, internet service provider, IP address, and mobile phone number.

Information from partners

Facebook also receives data from third-party advertisers, app developers, and publishers. This includes:

  • User activity data: Information on device usage, websites visited, purchases, and viewed ads gathered through tools like Facebook Pixel.
  • Interactions with services: Data on how users interact with partners' services, regardless of whether they have a Facebook account or are logged in.

Cookies and similar technologies

Facebook uses cookies to track user activities both on and off its platforms to support advertising and other site functions, enhancing content personalization and measuring ad effectiveness.

This data helps Facebook not only to tailor ads more effectively but also to improve the overall security and functionality of its services.

How does Facebook collect data?

Facebook collects data from millions of users worldwide via a variety of data collection techniques to gather a broad range of information from its users. The main purpose of collecting this data is to improve the online experience of Facebook users and to make the platform more personalized for them by displaying relevant ads and content.

The mechanisms through which Facebook gathers data include:

  • Direct user inputs: Any data you enter while using Facebook, from status updates to profile edits.
  • Tracking technologies: Facebook uses tracking cookies, pixels, and similar technologies to keep tabs on user activities, not just on its own platform but across the internet.
  • Data from third-party partners: Additionally, the platform gathers data from partners such as advertisers and app developers who integrate with Facebook’s services. This information enriches the data pool, allowing for more tailored user experiences.

Facebook’s data collection strategies are constantly evolving to harness newer technologies and methodologies. This involves utilizing machine learning tools to refine data analysis, which enables more specific user engagement and enhances service delivery.

What does Facebook do with the data it collects?

This detailed data collection helps Facebook tailor your experience on the platform, making it more engaging and functional. Data analysis may also be used to boost security by identifying potential threats.

The data collected by Facebook is used for these core functions:

  • Personalizing user experience: Tailoring content and ads to user preferences and behavioral patterns.
  • Advertising: The data supports targeted advertising aimed at increasing relevance and user engagement.
  • Product development: Innovating and improving Facebook's features and services based on user feedback and usage patterns.
  • Security: Data can be used to identify suspicious login attempts and alert account holders when they’re detected.

Facebook’s vast data collection practices bring up substantial privacy questions, though. As we've seen, mishandling such a trove of personal details can lead to significant breaches of trust.

Take, for instance, the well-publicized Cambridge Analytica scandal, where millions of users’ data were accessed without proper authorization. [1] These events serve as stark reminders of the potential dangers of data accumulation and the critical need for stringent data security measures.

So it’s crucial to stay informed about these issues as Facebook refines its approach to data handling amidst the shifting sands of user expectations and the broader digital environment. Additionally, the control users have over their personal data often feels limited to just a few settings provided by Facebook.

Facebook may not sell your data, but…

Although Facebook claims it does not directly sell user data, it acknowledges sharing information with partners who may interact with data brokers.

To combat this, using the best data removal services, such as DeleteMe, Incogni, and Aura, is an effective way to boost your privacy:

  • DeleteMe: Assists in removing your personal information from the web, decreasing your visibility to data brokers. This service regularly scans for and removes your data from numerous sites, ensuring ongoing privacy protection.

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  • Incogni: Focuses on scrubbing your digital traces from various databases, making it harder for your data to be misused. Incogni works tirelessly to ensure that new and existing data brokers can’t access or sell your information.

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  • Aura: Offers comprehensive online protection, including proactive data deletion services. Aura not only removes your data but also monitors for any misuse of your personal information, alerting you to potential threats.

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How to limit how much data Facebook collects on you

Taking charge of your personal data is important, especially on platforms like Facebook. Here are some effective steps to reduce the personal information Facebook gathers about you, enhancing your privacy and minimizing your digital footprint on the platform.

Follow these steps to reduce Facebook's data collection:

  • Adjust privacy settings: Ensure your settings restrict data visibility and access.
  • Limit ad tracking: Opt out of ad personalization to reduce targeted ads. This also lessens Facebook’s ability to track your activities.
  • Manage data permissions: Regularly review which apps and services have access to your Facebook data.
  • Understand app data management: Be aware of the effects of clearing data in the Facebook app. While this resets the app’s state and may temporarily affect data storage, it does not delete your account.
  • Delete specific data: Follow instructions on how to remove certain data from Facebook without deactivating your account, helping you maintain your privacy without cutting off your social ties.

You can learn more about limiting Facebook data collection here: How To Stop Facebook From Tracking You.

Implementing these measures will not only limit Facebook's ability to collect your data but also enhance your overall security online. Keeping these settings current is essential as Facebook frequently updates its policies and features.

Proactively managing your privacy settings leads to a more secure and controlled experience on Facebook and other social media platforms.

Use a VPN to hide more info from Facebook

To improve your privacy, using a VPN masks your online activity and location. By routing your internet connection through a server in a different location, a VPN makes it more difficult for websites and online services to track your personal information and browsing habits.

Explore these top-notch, reputable VPN providers:

  • NordVPN: Provides robust privacy protections, hiding your location and encrypting internet traffic. NordVPN also offers specialized servers optimized for various needs, including enhanced privacy, streaming, and more.

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  • Surfshark: Ensures your online activities remain anonymous, with features such as NoBorders mode, which allows usage in restrictive regions. Surfshark also offers CleanWeb, a feature that blocks ads, trackers, malware, and phishing attempts.

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  • ExpressVPN: Known for its high-speed and secure internet access, this service protects your data from trackers with best-in-class encryption technologies. ExpressVPN also provides TrustedServer technology, ensuring that all data is wiped with every reboot.

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Facebook data collection FAQs


Does Facebook sell your data?

No, Facebook does not sell data directly. However, it allows advertisers to target users based on their information, which might feel akin to selling.


How do I delete Facebook data without deleting my account?

You can selectively manage and delete specific pieces of data directly through Facebook's settings.


Does Facebook keep your data if you delete your account?

No, Facebook permanently deletes your profile, photos, posts, and other content you've added. However, friends may still see messages you sent, and some non-identifiable data, like log records, may be retained.


What happens if I clear data on the Facebook app?

Clearing data on the app will log you out and revert the app to its original settings, but it won't delete your account.

Bottom line

Facebook's comprehensive data collection practices mean that heaps of personal details — both those you actively provide and those passively collected — are continuously compiled. This happens whether you use Facebook daily or only log in occasionally.

For users who cherish the world’s connectivity yet are cautious about their digital presence, this reality might feel overwhelming. Getting to know and adjusting your privacy settings is a wise first step to handling these concerns.

For an extra layer of privacy, think about using leading VPN services such as Surfshark, NordVPN, or ExpressVPN to safeguard your online activities. Additionally, consider tapping into the best data removal services like DeleteMe, Incogni, and Aura. These services are geared toward removing your personal details from the internet and reducing your exposure to data brokers.

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Author Details
Mars is a California-based cybersecurity professional and writer currently pursuing a B.S. in Cybersecurity. With interests ranging from OSINT to ethical hacking and threat intelligence, Mars leverages his two years of writing experience to produce informative content on topics such as Internet guides and VPNs.