What Are Facebook Shadow Profiles?

MakeUseOf | 10/31/2018 | Shubham Agarwal
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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.

What Are Shadow Profiles and Do You Have One?

Shadow - Profiles - Analogy - Say - Friends

To understand what shadow profiles are, consider this analogy. Say there are two friends, Becky and John. Neither of them are on Facebook.

But Becky gives in and signs up. She creates an account, installs the app, and gets to work building her profile. While setting up, Facebook asks if Becky would like to provide her contacts to help Facebook locate her existing friends on the website. Becky thinks it’s a great way to kickstart her life on Facebook and grants Facebook permission.

Facebook - Becky - Contacts - Information - Phone

As soon as she does so, Facebook combs through Becky’s contacts and scoops all the available information such as phone numbers, email addresses, and other data.

This enables Facebook to figure out the Facebook users Becky might know already. It uses this data to populate the “People You May Know” feature, helping Becky quickly and easily add friends to her social network.

Data - Becky - Phone - Facebook - Algorithms

While this may sound harmless enough, while gathering data from Becky’s phone, Facebook’s algorithms also collect details on some of her friends who don’t have a Facebook account.

Facebook takes this opportunity to build profiles based on the preliminary data it has acquired. This includes a name, phone number, email address, and more besides. Hence, even if you’ve never signed up for Facebook, the company could have your information on file, and a rudimentary sense of who you are.

Data - Facebook - Facebook

To know more about what data Facebook has collected, here’s how to find out what Facebook knows about you.

6 Apps to Find What Facebook Knows About You (And How to Block It)

Sites - Apps

These sites and apps will show you what Facebook...
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