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I Have Some Questions, Like: How Did Facebook Know I Went to The Eye Doctor Today?

Updated on January 10, 2016

How Did Facebook Know I Bought Eyeglasses Today?

Photo by:  James Mosley
Photo by: James Mosley | Source

How to find that Facebook Data Policy you "read" and Accepted. You Know, Just to Refresh Your Memory of What You Already Know You've Agreed To

Ever think of an idea... you know... just think of something and then like a Miss Cleo act Facebook presents you with an ad about what you were just thinking of?

Weird. And, I used to shrug it off as coincidence, but tonight Facebook threw an ad at me that helped me piece it all together. You see, I have never seen a eyeglass frame ad on Facebook. That's just not what I usually see the second I log into my account. But tonight as I went to my FB page on my computer in my house, there it was -- an ad for frames. Strange because I went in for an annual eye exam today, and I shopped for and purchased new frames for the first time in 3 years. This was the last straw -- I couldn't ignore it this time! Is Facebook psychic??? What's happening here? I must have habitually interacted with Facebook in the waiting room. I don't even remember doing it. We check FB so often. But, I had my phone on me, so I probably logged onto FB as I was waiting to be seen by the doctor.

This prompted me to search FB for those Terms and Conditions that I "read" once upon a time. To find those Terms and Conditions:

  1. Log in to your Facebook account.
  2. In the top right hand corner, there is a Lock icon. Click on it.
  3. You'll see a dropdown menu including "Privacy Checkup," "Who Can See my Stuff," "Who Can Contact Me," and "How to Stop Someone From Bothering Me." Under those items you'll see two links: "See more Settings" and "Privacy Basics." Click on "Privacy Basics."
  4. This will direct you to another site where you'll have a choice of 5 links below the title that reads, "Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected." Click on the last link that says "Read our Data Policy."
  5. This brings you to a site where you can click around and read what information Facebook takes from you, how they do it, and how they use this information.

How Did Facebook Know I Visited an Eye Doctor Today?

To find out how FB knew I went to the eye doctor, I clicked on "What kind of information do we collect."

Then I clicked on a link under the dropdown menu that read, "things you do and information you provide."

Read those terms to learn what information you yourself provide Facebook when you interact with it daily.

There's some information about what credit card information they take. Check that out, for sure, if you've ever made a purchase through Facebook.

But, the next one also stood out to me for my purposes of finding out how Facebook knew I was at the eye doctor today.

"Device information.

We collect information from or about the computers, phones, or other devices where you install or access our Services, depending on the permissions you’ve granted. We may associate the information we collect from your different devices, which helps us provide consistent Services across your devices. Here are some examples of the device information we collect:

  • Attributes such as the operating system, hardware version, device settings, file and software names and types, battery and signal strength, and device identifiers.
  • Device locations, including specific geographic locations, such as through GPS, Bluetooth, or WiFi signals.
  • Connection information such as the name of your mobile operator or ISP, browser type, language and time zone, mobile phone number and IP address."

So, Facebook knows where I am during the day as long as I have my phone on me, and I'm logged in.

I read a section about third-party vendors, below.

"Information from third-party partners.

We receive information about you and your activities on and off Facebook from third-party partners, such as information from a partner when we jointly offer services or from an advertiser about your experiences or interactions with them."

So, I purchased eyeglasses today. After reading this, I'm thinking that the company from which I purchased these frames has an advertising deal with Facebook. Once I made the purchase, was the information on what I purchased sent to FB?

Under "How is this Information Shared" I read that my name and anything that will identify me is not shared, but general information is. Facebook says, "personally identifiable information is information like name or email address that can by itself be used to contact you or identifies who you are." That information is not shared, but information "such as 25 year old female, in Madrid, who likes software engineering" is shared.

So... my name or identity is not shared, but wherever the nameless person goes is/ could be recorded, and information on how long this nameless person is at this location, and what this nameless person purchases, etc. can be sent to FB's advertising partners. Those advertising partners receive data required to send specific ads to your FB profile. These details so specific that their use can give the eeriest feeling in the privacy of your own home. Like a billboard on the highway, you see an advertisement out of the corner of your eye as you play on your FB wall; a sign reflecting exactly what you did earlier in the day when you were out and about.

How Can You Manage or Delete Information About Yourself

Facebook says:

"You can manage the content and information you share when you use Facebook through the Activity Log tool. You can also download information associated with your Facebook account through our Download Your Information tool.

We store data for as long as it is necessary to provide products and services to you and others, including those described above. Information associated with your account will be kept until your account is deleted, unless we no longer need the data to provide products and services.

You can delete your account any time. When you delete your account, we delete things you have posted, such as your photos and status updates. If you do not want to delete your account, but want to temporarily stop using Facebook, you may deactivate your account instead." "Keep in mind that information that others have shared about you is not part of your account and will not be deleted when you delete your account."

Take Some Time To Read The Facebook Privacy Basics, For Real.

You have specific questions, and Facebook provides all of the information you need to answer your questions. If you're feeling uncomfortable, with Facebook's Services, delete your account. Know what's happening with Facebook and your privacy, and don't depend on viral rumors to inform you.


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    • Kendra Dobson profile image

      Kendra Dobson 20 months ago

      Thank you, Rota. I'm glad this Hub has you thinking! Thank you for commenting.

    • Rota profile image

      Rota 20 months ago

      Very interesting. Gave me some food for thought. Nice hub.