Facebook and Instagram collect immense data from users

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In today’s digital age, nearly one in ten individuals possesses a Facebook account, and a comparable user base is anticipated for Instagram, now under the ownership of Meta, the parent company of Facebook. However, the revelation that these platforms extensively gather user data raises concerns about privacy. A recent study by Surfshark sheds light on this data collection practice.

Interestingly, when compared to its competitors, Twitter, another prominent social media platform, is found to collect relatively less data. Nevertheless, Twitter also engages in data collection, albeit with the aim of enhancing user experience.

According to Surfshark’s report, companies owned by Mark Zuckerberg, namely Facebook and Instagram, stand out by collecting all 32 data points analyzed in the study. This includes personal information such as names, addresses, and phone numbers, which are utilized to track user activity. Additionally, data like geo-location and browsing content contribute to the creation of user profiles, enabling targeted advertising and services.

The question arises as to whether the collected data is shared with third parties or remains secured on the servers. Although many tech giants claim not to share data, there is an underlying reality where data sharing occurs for analytics and marketing purposes.

In general, social networking and messaging platforms collect various data points, such as email addresses used during sign-up and metadata indicating the creation time of photos or data files. Notably, platforms, excluding Telegram, do not collect specific personal information like political and religious beliefs or health-related data.

Address books, call logs, and SMS history are also collected if users opt to upload, sync, or import such data during sign-up. Financial transaction details conducted through the company’s products, like credit or debit card information and CVVs, are collected and safeguarded. Even Twitter engages in this practice, particularly for premium users.

The question then arises: is it prudent to share such critical details?

While companies argue that storing such data streamlines future transactions and allows for targeted advertising, oversharing can lead to issues like information leaks and identity theft, especially in the event of a cyber-attack on the collecting business.

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Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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