The growing realization of the predictive power of data and analytics is causing trouble for companies and consumers alike. Companies are striving to squeeze all the data they can out of you without scaring you away, and some consumers are increasingly becoming more anxious over privacy concerns.
Social networking sites are among the chief concerns in this emerging conflict, and Facebook is doing what it can to respond. Two years ago, Facebook enabled users to access some of their data archive, and at the time users would find copies of their photos, posts, messages, list of friends, and chat conversations among other bits of data. Since then Facebook has expanded the amount of data it makes available to its users. In addition to everything previously provided, Facebook has thus far made available internet protocol addresses information and friend requests, and said more categories of information will be made available in the future.
However, these categories are a small subsection of a much larger data store Facebook keeps about users. Facebook has 84 data categories it tracks on each individual user and with this update, over half of the data catagories tracked are still invisable to users.
Facebook is particularly scary to some consumers, and has developed an interesting subculture of dissenters. Knowing your friends, hobbies, job history, location, and status updates among 79 other categories enables Facebook to know you by your data in a truly unique way. This has caused troubles with various institutions and governments over the years and most notably in Europe where internet privacy is rather strict.
The archive update is in direct response to demands from the Irish Data Protection Commission, and although it does provide more information to users, it is receiving considerable criticism for not going far enough.
“We welcome that Facebook users are now getting more access to their data, but Facebook is still not in line with the European Data Protection Law,” said Mr. Schrems, the law student who filed the complaint against Facebook. “With the changes, Facebook will only offer access to 39 data categories, while it is holding at least 84 such data categories about every user.”