Thousands of companies monitor every Facebook user - Consumer Reports.

An inside look at how Facebook and other social media giants use data tracking to monitor their users. The article discusses how user information is collected, and how it can be used or misused.

Who's Watching You on Facebook?

It's a familiar experience - browsing Facebook, but feeling the strange sense someone is watching. The posts you see, the ads tailored to your likes and even the suggested friends all align mysteriously with your recent activities. Indeed, you're not wrong to feel watched. Each user's move on Facebook is monitored meticulously.

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Now, how many companies do you think have access to your personal info from Facebook? The number is higher than you think, with thousands of third-party firms taking interest in your data.

Thousands of companies monitor every Facebook user - Consumer Reports. ImageAlt

Facebook considers this as their method of providing a personalized experience. It might not necessarily be harmful if your favorite ice cream flavor is known by an ice-cream company, but the risk of personal info misuse should not be dismissed.

How Does Facebook Allow This?

While it may seem invasive, remember this: when you signed up for Facebook, you agreed to their terms of service. In that lengthy document, Facebook clearly states they reserve the right to collect and share your data with third-party companies.

Every click, every like and every post – Facebook collects this data and analyzes it. This information then forms a ‘profile of you’, which Facebook can sell to advertisers.

So, in a nutshell, the more you use Facebook, the more data is available for these companies. You are not just a user, but also the product Facebook sells.

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The Cycle of Data Tracking

Every time you log into Facebook, the cycle of data tracking begins. From the articles you share, to the pages you like, to your status updates and messages – all these actions tell Facebook a story about you.

Their sophisticated algorithms then process this information and organize it into a comprehensive profile of your preferences. Think of it like a digital mirror; an online representation of who you are.

This digital profile is what piques the interests of advertisers. They subsequently direct products or services they believe you'll like your way. This is why you often find targeted ads on your feed.

The Implication of This Power

This type of data monitoring and tracking has brought about numerous significant implications. Issues such as lack of transparency and compromised privacy come to the forefront.

Processing billions of data points, Facebook can predict the kind of products users would buy, the restaurants they would visit, and even their voting behavior. As such, the power lies not only in knowing what users have done but also in predicting what they will do.

Furthermore, there have been instances of data misuse. The Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed how improperly obtained Facebook data influenced political results.

What should be your private data has become a tool for companies to manipulate your purchasing and arguably, your decision-making.

How To Protect Your Data

The best way to control your info is to limit it. Be cautious of what you post and like on Facebook. Consistently check your privacy settings to be sure you're comfortable with who sees your posts.

Also, be conscious of third-party apps. Many apps ask for permission to access your data on Facebook. It would be best if you were selective about which apps you give access.

Finally, educating oneself about Facebook's data policies as well as those of other social media platforms is a crucial step in protecting oneself from potential data incursions.

Conclusively, knowledge is power, especially when it comes to protecting your digital privacy.