After the recent security scare over Facebook leaking user information, a dust-up over Facebook shadow profile has relaunched. A “shadow profile” sounds like something a CIA operative would have. But if you’re a Facebook user, you have a shadow profile, whether you’re a real-life James Bond or just an accountant from Des Moines.
Facebook spends an awful amount of time defending its data practices. The social network’s hunger for users’ personal information has led to it adopting any means necessary for harvesting as much data as possible. This means that even if you never sign up to Facebook, the social network will have some information on you. And it’s all thanks to shadow profile. But what are Facebook shadow profiles? And do you have one? Read this article to find out.
What Is a Facebook Shadow Profile, and Where Does Yours Lurk?
A Facebook shadow profile is a file that Facebook keeps on you. It contains data it pulls up from looking at the information that a user’s friends voluntarily provide.
You’re not supposed to see it, or even know it exists. This collection of information can include phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and other pertinent data. Data which is about a user that they don’t necessarily put on their public profile. Even if you never gave Facebook your second email address or your home phone number, they may still have it on file. Because anyone who uses the “Find My Friends” feature allows Facebook to scan their contacts. Sometimes your friend has your contact info on her phone and uses that feature. Then Facebook can match your name to that information and add it to your file.
I don’t have a Facebook account
Facebook almost certainly has data about you stored on a server somewhere. Even if you do not have a Facebook page, Facebook likely has data about you. To access this data, you need a Facebook account. If you do not have a Facebook account, you are not allowed access to the data Facebook has stored on you. That’s not illegal but it’s just rude.
You can see for yourself. Head over to Archive.IS to view the Facebook page called “I don’t have a Facebook account and would like to request all personal data stored by Facebook”. Then that page should link to a page called “Personal Data Requests” with several options available on it. One option should be “I don’t have a Facebook account.”
The most updated version of Facebook’s “Personal Data Requests” page gives you only one option. You’ll need a Facebook account to move forward. And you can download all the data you’ve racked up since you signed up on Facebook – that’s it. Because that’s it, chances are Facebook has more they’re not sharing.
Shadow Profiles Won’t Go Away
Over the past several weeks we’ve seen quite a bit of backlash over Facebook’s latest series of privacy blunders. Emboldened Facebook users started an internet-based hashtag movement of Facebook-quitters since the first of this round of bad publicity moments began.
We probably can’t actually delete all the data on us Facebook’s already gathered. The company’s never allowed the average citizen full access to the data they have on-file. Because of this, chances are slim Facebook will ever delete everything they’ve got on any one person.
Will Facebook Ever Backtrack on Shadow Profile?
We suspect Facebook will never give up on shadow profiles, as, even after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, shadow profiles still exist.
Facebook clearly believes they’re crucial for the social network so that no one feels lost when they sign up for the first time. It is undoubtedly a matter of worry, and the weakest link in Facebook’s defense of your private data.
Is There Anything You Can Do About It?
Unfortunately, you don’t have any direct control over shadow profiles. Whenever a Facebook user who has you as a contact on their phone signs up to Facebook, your personal information will be added to your shadow profile.
Therefore, unless you’re comfortable with switching to a new phone number and email address, you can not do anything about your shadow profile.
You can also request your friends who actively use Facebook to delete the contacts they’ve uploaded. They can do so by heading over to the Manage Contacts page on Facebook. Of course, they will have to keep the sync settings turned off after this. Unfortunately, this is not really practical since you’ll have to ask everyone you know who is on Facebook and has your contact details to follow the procedure.
If you do end up getting a new phone number and email address, the best thing then is to not give it out to everyone. Only to people who you know understand personal security and are understand Facebook’s privacy settings.
Has Facebook Disclosed These Activities?
Under Networks and Connections, you will find an excerpt that says: “We also collect contact information if you choose to upload, sync or import it from a device (such as an address book or call log or SMS log history), which we use for things like helping you and others find people you may know and for the other purposes listed below.”
Plus, there’s another section called “Things others do and information they provide about you” that states “We also receive and analyze content, communications, and information that other people provide when they use our Products. This can include information about you, such as when others share or comment on a photo of you, send a message to you, or upload, sync or import your contact information.”
The last part which reads “sync or import your contact information” directly points at shadow profiles and how Facebook uses the information it collects.
Beside things mentioned above, if you are interested in learning how to create a phishing page for Facebook you can read our previous article. Moreover, if you have something more to tell, please share it with us by leaving a comment below.