How Does Facebook Use Your Data?

How Does Facebook Use Your Data?

Facebook has over 2.8 billion monthly users. While many may use the network to connect with friends and family, Facebook has become an increasingly valuable platform for businesses. In this guide, well discuss advertising and how Facebook uses your data.


Whether you spend hours scrolling through your news feed every day, or you check your notifications once a week, youve probably noticed that businesses and brands are trying to get your attention when you open the Facebook app. Targeted ads appear on news feeds, and you might also find that you receive suggestions, ideas or recommendations as a result of posts youve liked, companies you follow, places youve been or products youve bought. In this guide, well explore how Facebook uses your data to provide advertising opportunities and show people ads.

How does Facebook use your data?

Facebook user data is a subject of heated debate and great interest and intrigue at the moment. A recent Pew study indicated that 74% of adults were unaware that Facebook created lists of their traits and interests. Over 85% of users were given categories based on racial or ethnic affinities and political views. Of those polled, 58% were uncomfortable with Facebook collecting this type of information (source).

How does Facebook collect data?

There are four key ways Facebook collects your data. These include:

  • Actions on Facebook and Facebook platforms, including WhatsApp and Instagram. Examples include clicking on adverts or links or sharing, liking or commenting on posts. If you check the Your Interests tab on your Facebook profile, youll be able to see the interests Facebook has compiled for you based on your interactions and actions.
  • Access to Facebook users: the second way Facebook collects and uses data is through selling access to users through email lists or rewards programs. Businesses can target customers who may be interested in their products by using Facebook as a platform for targeted advertising. Companies can target Facebook users by using sources of data, including email addresses or public voter records, for example.
  • Web tracking: Facebook tracks a lot of web-based activity. Using cookies and the Facebook Pixel, Facebook monitors and tracks web usage, providing information about the sites you visit and the apps you use. Research conducted by DuckDuckGo revealed that Facebook tracks usage on over a third of the top 50,000 websites (source).
  • Location data: if youve been asked to allow Facebook to know your location when using the Facebook app or other linked apps, such as WhatsApp or Instagram, you may have noticed that you receive more adverts for local services or businesses.

What does Facebook do with personal data?

If you use Facebook, and you werent aware that the app was collecting personal information, its natural to have reservations or concerns about data usage and privacy. According to Facebook, the reasons for collecting data include:

  • Providing products and personalized services and improving the app for users: this covers everything from location-specific ads and ads that match your interests to providing a simpler sign-up process for users accessing apps across the Facebook network.
  • Analytics and performance analysis: Facebook collects and uses data to enable businesses and brands to track activity and performance and evaluate the efficacy and impact of advertising campaigns and social media marketing.
  • Enhancing safety and security and protecting users: Facebook uses data to verify accounts, identify and eliminate spam and promote security for users across all Facebook apps and channels.
  • Interaction and engagement: Facebook uses the data you provide to facilitate open communication and interaction. This includes updates, news about products, services and features and new policies and guidelines.
  • Social responsibility and giving back: Facebook uses data to undertake and support research and promote social responsibility.

How can I make sure my data is safe?

If you have questions about data usage and privacy, its a good idea to read Facebooks policies and guidelines and to check your settings. Many of us use Facebook on a regular basis without giving too much thought to the posts we like or the adverts we see. Every single action we take on Facebook, other platforms related to Facebook and the sites we visit on the web contribute to targeted ad settings and our data profiles.

If you are a Facebook user, you can learn more about how your personal information is stored and used via your profile settings. If you go into your account, you can access tabs, including Ads and Apps. You can also check your interests to see if the list created by Facebook is an accurate reflection. If you want to enjoy greater control of the adverts you see, you can adjust the settings to allow or block specific advertisers.

Recently, Facebook has introduced new measures to protect user data, including limiting the data you provide when signing up or signing into an app to an email address, name and profile picture and preventing developers from accessing your data if you havent used their app in the last three months.

Users who are keen to enjoy Facebook without being bombarded by ads or worrying about data usage and privacy can also explore options such as using a VPN, switching to a lesser-known web browser than Chrome and using alternative search engines. Google is by far the most popular but it tracks up to 85% of the top sites. It is possible to use browsers that do not track activity across the web, which will limit the amount of data collected.


Facebook is one of the worlds most popular social networks with an estimated 2.85 billion monthly users. If you use Facebook, youve probably noticed that your news feed is a mixture of posts from friends and colleagues and company adverts. When you use Facebook or other Facebook apps, every action you take contributes to an online profile, which shapes the way businesses target you and the adverts you see. While Facebook claims to protect user data, some people have reservations about how their data is collected and used, and this is why its crucial to understand what kinds of data are stored, shared and passed on.