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So You Dumped Facebook ... It Might Still Be Spying You

Social media Like and Dislike Vector Modern Icons Isolated on White Background. Design Elements for Social Network, SMM, CEO, APP, UI, UX, Marketing, Business, Advertisemen
By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

For most people, social media is a place to connect with friends, family, and new people. For businesses, social media is marketing.

Social media users often seem to turn a blind eye to the fact that the platforms are collecting personal information from their users in order to sell that info to marketers. In theory, this is supposed to give you a better advertising experience (but, as it often feels when you buy a sequin pillow with your dog's face printed on the backside of the sequins) the ads try to manipulate you into buying things you don’t really need. As the data collection scandals hit, one after the next, users have been trying to move away from social media sites like Facebook, which has seen more data collection scandals that it (and its users) would like.

Deactivate Does Not Delete

For the countless Facebook users that have deactivated their Facebook accounts, it turns out that Facebook is still tracking you, for advertising purposes, post-deactivation. The site tries to make it clear that deactivation is not the same as deleting, but most users aren't expecting that Facebook will continue to track them while deactivated. Also, because of how much information is exchanged over Facebook, users are generally reluctant to completely delete their accounts.

To be clear, if you deactivated your Facebook account, well, you’re probably still being tracked, but just not in the same way. Facebook's rationale is that deactivated accounts are likely to re-activate, and when they do, the company wants to be able to continue serving their users relevant advertising.

For those users who have deleted Facebook, while their accounts may be wiped, much of their information will continue to live on for marketing demographics purposes. Also, other users who have you as a contact (and not just on Facebook) can lead to you having a "shadow" profile on Facebook. That’s a profile that the company maintains, for behind the scenes purposes.

Tracking for Marketing

Social media and other websites tracking users for marketing purposes isn't anything new, or even really shocking, anymore. Just about everyone has heard the online adage, "If you're not paying, you're the product." In short, in order to have more attractive advertising slots to sell, websites gather data on their users/viewers which they use to sell targeted advertising slots. And that is the end, and also the beginning, of the story.  

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