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Facebook Buys Data From Third-Party Brokers To Fill In User Profiles (ibtimes.com) 116

An anonymous reader quotes a report from International Business Times: According to a report from ProPublica, the world's largest social network knows far more about its users than just what they do online. What Facebook can't glean from a user's activity, it's getting from third-party data brokers. ProPublica found the social network is purchasing additional information including personal income, where a person eats out and how many credit cards they keep. That data all comes separate from the unique identifiers that Facebook generates for its users based on interests and online behavior. A separate investigation by ProPublica in which the publication asked users to report categories of interest Facebook assigned to them generated more than 52,000 attributes. The data Facebook pays for from other brokers to round out user profiles isn't disclosed by the company beyond a note that it gets information "from a few different sources." Those sources, according to ProPublica, come from commercial data brokers who have access to information about people that isn't linked directly to online behavior. The social network doesn't disclose those sources because the information isn't collected by Facebook and is publicly available. Facebook does provide a page in its help center that details how to get removed from the lists held by third-party data brokers. However, the process isn't particularly easy. In the case of the Oracle-owned Datalogix, users who want off the list have to send a written request and a copy of a government-issued identification in the mail to Oracle's chief privacy officer. Another data collecting service, Acxiom, requires users provide the last four digits of their social security number to see the information the company has gathered about them.
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Facebook Buys Data From Third-Party Brokers To Fill In User Profiles

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  • Really?

    • YES! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2016 @10:43PM (#53576803)

      Zuck on It.

    • Re:NO! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2016 @10:46PM (#53576817)

      Worse than that is, even if you don't have an account, FB already has one for you, just waiting to be activated. Because your friends, family, and private databases sold you out.

      Fuck the Zuck.

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by BurlyFox ( 4815103 )

        Worse than that is, even if you don't have an account, FB already has one for you, just waiting to be activated. Because your friends, family, and private databases sold you out.

        Fuck the Zuck.

        Heh heh.. World 2004 - Love the Zuck. World 2010 - Hate the Zuck. World 2016+ - Fuck the Zuck.

      • So it would -- were I on FB (or any of my email accounts) with my real name, birthday etc. #sorry_Zuck
        • So it would -- were I on FB (or any of my email accounts) with my real name, birthday etc. #sorry_Zuck

          You don't have to have an account. If people you know have a FB account and the app, and have you in their contacts, they already have a profile on you. And with your phone number and email address, they can buy all your online activity from all these online analytics companies to build up a FB profile even though you've never signed up. #you_lose

      • Prove it. Show me incontrovertible evidence of this.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yes, my little piggies, soon I'll know EVERYTHING about you!

    -Mark Z

    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      Yes, my little piggies, soon I'll know EVERYTHING about you!

      -Mark Z

      So what? His wife is ugly and his house is small. The guy is not even enjoying his billions.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        His wife is ugly ...

        Because having a trophy is far more important than a partner who understands his friends and is good in bed and the kitchen.

        ... his house is small.

        He can afford to rent his toys and anything else, besides, why is conspicuous consumption the measure of success?

  • by the_Bionic_lemming ( 446569 ) on Thursday December 29, 2016 @10:51PM (#53576829)

    the third party data is gathered from re sellers of data grabbed by the "win prize" folks and oil change places, and pert damn everywhere where they ask you for name/address/phone - as well as trawling public records.

    Then to make sure they have a monthly supply of fraction of a cent commodity they mingle the data by moving names/numbers/addresses.

    I found that out when I started to data mine the stuff our business bought and didn't find myself, but found a few references to my address being owned by different people.

    Most of the data out there is worthless garbage. People like me sign up as Tripod McBallsington, living at an address in the zip code of 98210, with a phone number of 1-800-555-1212.

    And my email address is always on somethingmadeup@mailinator.com.

    • by ASDFnz ( 472824 )

      People like me sign up as Tripod McBallsington, living at an address in the zip code of 98210, with a phone number of 1-800-555-1212. And my email address is always on somethingmadeup@mailinator.com.

      Wait... I am Tripod McBallsington!

      Are you the reason I keep getting all this spam mail? Wait till I find you, what is your name?

    • I prefer Kinki Wankinnen, Finnish expat racing driver :-)

  • Zuckerberg's mission at this point is to literally be Big Brother, from surveillance to media censorship to policing thoughtcrime. (Obviously Trump is Goldstein.) The face-cages with the rats are next.

    And since FB is a private entity there's no pesky Constitution to worry about.

    • And since FB is a private entity there's no pesky Constitution to worry about.

      Yes, because private companies never have to worry about running afoul of Constitutional issues.

      • Pretty much, yeah.

        The US constitution restricts the government, remember?

        • Pretty much, yeah.

          The US constitution restricts the government, remember?

          So I can refuse service to blacks, or refuse to hire women, or put up a calendar of sexy women? Hmmm. Maybe all those companies and bosses that were punished for those actions should call you for expert legal advice.

          • You apparently don't understand even the first thing about the US constitution.

            Again, it imposes restrictions on the government, not on private corporations. The only way the constitution relates to your ability to refuse to hire racial minorities, is in whether or not it's unconstitutional for the government to ban you from doing it.

            • I admit I was not thinking straight on that one.

                In my brain, I was thinking of the private sector anti-discrimination suits, and tying them into the government anti-discrimination suits. Private sector anti-discrimination is of course set by laws, federal and state. The Constitution prohibits various discriminatory practices for governments, or government run institutions like public colleges. Somehow, those two different situations got mingled in my brain in my first post.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Friday December 30, 2016 @12:46AM (#53577153)

      What if the Facebook is a front for an intelligence agency?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The real fun is the private contractor or private detective like services who kept all the images and material from early social media in near real time.
      An image removed/hidden within 12 hours a few years ago might still exist.
      That material is then packaged to Fortune 500 brands to look back over the top resumes that get considered. Did a person party? Drink? Drugs? Are they political on the left or right? Any links to undercover journalism? Any interesting people in group photos years ago?
      Other nat
  • I don't use the site, so I don't care what they do with your personal information.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Ha. But what about yours? Because they have it too. It's called shadow accounts. They are created by facebook using stuff that people tell facebook about you. "You know M. X? Can you help us making sure you have the right one? What is his street address? His phone number? ..." you would be surprised at how many people are willing to sell you out.

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday December 30, 2016 @02:03AM (#53577333)
      You browse the web, right? Every website you visit with that little 'f' icon (hey look at the upper right corner of the slashdot page!) is running a little script courtesy of Facebook. The moment you load that page, Facebook knows you visited it. If you don't have a FB account, they don't know who you are (yet), but based on cookies, flash cookies, or other signatures unique to your browser and computer, they know that user 1348752983 (in their database) reads slashdot, and on Dec 30, 2016 @ 12:39 am made a post under the name "I'm New Around Here" (1154723).

      Then one day your friend (who is on Facebook) sends you an email with a video invite to her birthday party. You click to play the video. The video is hosted by Facebook, and now based on your click-through, Facebook knows your email address. Based on their cookie stored in your browser, they now know that your email address is user 1348752983, and all the other info they've been collecting about you is now linked to your email address in their servers. Based on your email and other data they have, they deduce your name, cross-reference that to this info they're buying from other services. And now they know your full name, age, address, where you work, roughly how much you make, which high school you went to, who you're dating,

      They know all this even though you don't have a Facebook account. Crap like this is why I started browsing everything in incognito/private mode, in addition to the half dozen script, cookie, and tracker blockers I run. I'm not really a private person (the government has my fingerprints and iris scans thanks to the Nexus program I had to join to work crossing the border every day). I just do this because of the principle of the thing - if you want to be gathering info like this about me, at least have the decency to ask for my permission first. Otherwise you're just a digital stalker. And stalking should not be a legitimate business model.
  • What do I do? Make a profile and delete it?

    • I did that very thing though not intentionally. Someone convinced me I should have one but after a few months of mostly wasting my time I deleted it. As far as I know it has indeed been deleted after a two week waiting period.
  • Another reason why I block ads (it only solves only a part of them problem). Fuck this secret tracking on the internet.
    • Re:Block them (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jack9 ( 11421 ) on Friday December 30, 2016 @03:08AM (#53577451)

      I assure you, blocking the ads doesn't change the data collection aspect of most adservers. Disabled javascript (80%) and image loading (19%), you eliminate most of the tracking....excepting your cellphone. Nothing stops collection on that device. Having worked on a host of adservers, I'm surprised at how the biggest problems are scaling and manipulating large data, not the complexity of gathering data.

  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Friday December 30, 2016 @02:09AM (#53577345)

    If your not completely blocking Facebook domains they will also stalk you as you move from website to website thanks to globally pervasive social media bugs installed on websites throughout the Internet.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Indeed. I think I have enough of them, especially as what they do is criminal here (you may not save any user data without explicit permission, and I did not ever permit them to do anything).

      Have a link to a list of all their domains/subnets so I can put them into my firewall?

      • by Threni ( 635302 )

        > especially as what they do is criminal here...I did not ever permit them to do anything

        If you use their services in any way then you are permitting them.

        • by gweihir ( 88907 )

          Not true at all. EU law is far ahead in this regard. They need to explicitly ask. And even if they do and I say yes, I can order them at any time to delete all my data and they have to do it. Storing and correlating data on people that do not have consented and that do not have an account with them is a criminal act.

          • by Threni ( 635302 )

            You're agreeing with me. Look at the terms you agreed to when you signed up with facebook.

  • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Friday December 30, 2016 @02:16AM (#53577349)

    Isn't it time for a distributed, open source, facebook competitor? One where you can _choose_ which FB-provider you want to use (or just run on your own server if you want), and migrate your account if need be. One where you retain ownership over your comments and your data and your f'ing life?

  • They all do it... (Score:5, Informative)

    by eWarz ( 610883 ) on Friday December 30, 2016 @02:48AM (#53577425)
    Oh it goes FAR deeper then that. Many of these companies know a lot more about you than even YOU know about you. Forget browser fingerprinting. Forget tracking. Every piece of information you give away to every advertiser or company allows them to individually put together pieces of information about you. What you don't realize is that even if you use incognito mode all the time, change your user agent, etc. they can track your HABITS. They can track your LOCATION via the IP address you use to visit. They can even track you based on on the type of porn you look at. This information might not be worth much by itself, but it all gets fed into a system that grades it on it's quality and uses the results to identify you, profile you, and then find you (I say 'a system', but there are several competing products out there) and sell personalized products/services to you or worse. Even if you use a VPN 24/7/365 someone likely has a handle on you. It might not be a good one at first, but they will build a profile, and combine it with other data/profiles...and eventually they'll be able to tie it all together. You might think that staying off the internet can help you, but at this point, the world has become so connected that anyone can be found and identified. Have a drivers license? You are on the radar. Get a ticket/go to court/sue anyone/get sued? On the radar. Use a credit/debit card or checking account/ACH? DEFINITELY on the radar (even if your bank has a decent privacy policy, Your transaction crosses several different boundaries, so it's impossible to guarantee your privacy when doing a financial transaction of any kind except MAYBE cash...and even then...)
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > Many of these companies know a lot more about you than even YOU know about you
      bullshit, paranoid I'm-clever-than-you-can-possibly-think-look-how-much-secret-stuff-I-know post.
      > they can track your HABITS
      No they can't.
      > They can track your LOCATION
      No they can't if you disable all the stuff they use for tracking and have a nonfixed IP - duh.
      > They can even track you based on on the type of porn you look at
      lie
      > and sell personalized products/services to you or worse
      being as I never see an adve

  • I think Charlie Brookers Black Mirror [thewrap.com] got it depicted right as to the effect these unsocial networks [sexysocialmedia.com] will have on the real world: See episode one Nosedive [wikipedia.org] ..
  • Only reason to what is claim in the article is to enrich... aka verify data.

    The irony is that if your just a little bit more honest .... people will give your their data. You just have to show reasonably that it won't bite them in the ass.

    If your a marketer then advocate stronger banking regulation. Actually if your totally honest then you should be devising the next replacement for cash and selling it to the world governments.

    Advertising has always been grey on both ends yet it might equal 40 percent of e

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