Now it's easier to see just what data Facebook and Instagram are collecting about you
It's no secret that Facebook gathers staggering amounts of information about its users across its various products. This is something that many people just accept, but there is a slight discomfort in not knowing quite what is being collected.
To add a little balm to this aching fear, Facebook has announced updates to its Download Your Information tool on Facebook and Download Your Data tool on Instagram. The updates mean that while you can do little to stop Facebook from tracking you, you can at least download and see what data it is collecting about you.
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The changes are Facebook's latest nod to transparency, and it will satisfy people's curiosity about just what it is the social media giant wants to know about them. The updates to the data download tools are, sadly, purely informational. You can view and download data, but you cannot delete, amend, or opt out of anything.
Facebook explains that it is now possible to download the date it collects "to improve your experiences":
Download Your Information and Download Your Data will now contain additional information about your interactions on Facebook and Instagram. As you browse the internet, apps and websites constantly use data to improve your experiences. We use data such as information people add to their profiles, or actions such as following a Page or liking a post, to personalize what people see on Facebook and Instagram. This is a big reason why no two people ever have the exact same experience using our products. Our Data Policy describes how our services work in more detail.
The company also provides you with access to the "inferences used to improve your experiences":
Download Your Information will now include more inferences about the content you interact with on our services, which we use to recommend what you see in Facebook's News Feed, news tab and Watch sections. Understanding the kinds of content people engage with is an important part of how we make people's experiences more relevant to their interests. For example, if someone shares an article about a football team that one of their friends posted, we may show them other football-related content. We infer that the person is interested in football because they engaged with their friend’s article about the sport. Also, in Download Your Data we'll include categories assigned to some accounts, such as sports or fashion, used to suggest content in Instagram's Explore tab. Inferences aren’t unique to technology platforms. Companies commonly use information like this to improve people’s experiences, so we’re also sharing new educational content to help people understand this data and how we use it.