Learn How Marketers Can Breach Your Privacy On Facebook Anytime – An Experiment

Facebook Privacy

Recently there has been a Facebook data breach of about 50 million people that has been the talk for the last few days. While this data was obtained using a third party application on Facebook, I’m going to show you here how you don’t exactly need an app or be tech savvy to obtain people’s private data.

To begin with, ‘There is nothing called privacy in the World of Facebook’ and I will show you how in this article, you can watch the video below:

First of all, we share everything on Facebook today! Almost everything. Every single time you use Facebook to communicate about something, you get segregated into different buckets. Buckets like your age, gender, language, location, education, job title, company you work for, college or university you study at, relationship status, sexual orientation, engagement status, years of wedding, years of parenting, mobile phone you use, affinity towards expensive things on the basis of your purchase behavior and the ads you click on, your frequent international travels – as you login to Facebook from different destinations, interests, gaming behavior and the list goes on. In short, as a marketer, I can target you on the basis of the information you share on Facebook to inform your friends or keep your profile updated.

Anyone and everyone can run Facebook advertisements and here is an experiment I have performed to help you better understand how easy it is for marketers like us to breach your privacy!

#1. Created a Random Page:

To demonstrate how easy it is to breach privacy on Facebook, I created a random Facebook page titled ‘I Love India – The Best Country in The World’. On this page I posted a set of random updates that I then boosted to a laser-targeted audience.

Random Page

Imagine this scenario:

Let’s say I am a stalker who would like to stalk and distribute profiles of divorcees and widows in the city to friends of mine. In India, if I ask this question “How many women divorcees, widows or people who have separated from their husband would like to share their marital status in public?”, not many would raise their hands!  This is something that we would like to keep private or amongst our closest friends in most cases. How do I identify them? I can’t randomly keep asking women if they are divorced, right?

#2. Made A Random Post That Connects Well With Indian Emotions:

Well, I used this post that talks about common Indian dishes that people love as a medium to identify those women. I ran Facebook ads with engagement as an objective targeting all the divorcee women and widows in Chennai and Bangalore city.

Facebook Engagement Ads

Now I know whoever engages with this post through a  like, comment or share would be either separated from her husband or divorced or a widow.

Look at the engagement now:

Some of them have liked and commented on this post. If I click on their profiles, you can see all these profiles are of widows or divorced women on Facebook from Chennai and Bangalore. The job is made easier for a stalker to send them friend requests, find and stalk them on Instagram or pass this information to other people who want to reach out to them with ill-intentions.

Below is another example for you. On the same page I created this post – This is something so random right?  I am talking about Taj Mahal here.

Since Facebook ads allows targeting people on the basis of mobile device they use, I targeted this post at people who use the latest iPhoneX in Bangalore and Chennai  as it is  one of the most expensive phones in the market today. As per the dashboard there were about 34,000 people.

On running advertisement for just 2 dollars, these many people reacted to the post:

 

These profiles are good enough for thieves to stalk, search them on instagram, follow their footprints and find an opportunity to steal iPhoneX or at-least identify who are the rich guys out on Facebook to lure them into cyber-frauds. Remember, Facebook records your mobile phone device data as soon as you log on to Facebook from mobile.

In a similar style I made a post to target mothers of kids of age group 0-8 years, Facebook only knows your years of parenting when you register your child’s birth as a life event on Facebook or when you boast on  your parenting anniversaries. You do this to make an announcement and create a milestone in your life and Facebook uses this data for marketers like us to sell you products that best suit your needs at present.

To narrow down on the audience I also chose a set of expensive mobile phone models and Facebook showed that 9900 people fit that category.

Imagine a pedophile or kidnapper in your city runs a post like this to make a list of their potential targets, especially when they use this in combination with the option of targeting parents who own iPhoneX. This data is super private right? Facebook has made this easily available!

These are just 3 simple examples to tell you how one can use Facebook to breach privacy in a fraction of minutes with a very minimal investment. There are many other situations where Facebook can reveal what you can’t even imagine and I can prove this to you.

But, let me tell you one important thing: All of this is only possible for marketers like us if you reveal too much information about you on this platform, with rising cyber crimes we should be careful about what we share and don’t share on Social Media. At the same it’s my humble request to Facebook, please restrict usage of APIs. Please restrict usage of Facebook advertisements to only handful of agencies in every country in order to have only trustworthy hands using them. I know there are lots of privacy and ads policies drafted by Facebook, but does anyone read them at all? Facebook team should go and check out Facebook Lead Generation forms where people add random links to cross through the privacy policy section and Facebook approves of those ads without even reading them.

My purpose of this video was not to scare you but to only make you aware on how vulnerable your private data is today.

Yes, I am a Marketer I am enjoying the new ways to target people but it’s my duty to let you know we target you on the basis of what you share and how you use this platform. What I showed you today was just an experiment. What if someone is doing this already?

Think about it!

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