Here’s what’s interesting from the Zuckerberg show in DC last week:

The ability to harvest data on billions of Facebook users is not big news, You don’t need a Facebook API to scrape and profile most of its users. Profiles set to “public” have been harvested for years, and 3rd party data aggregators have built mountainous datasets on each and every one of these profiles. Data aggregators like Spokeo, Intellius, etc have done this for years.

Zuckerberg’s admission/non-admission that it’s actively aggregating IP information from sites that have a Facebook “Like” button/Cookie on it is pretty interesting.

Here’s how Facebook is able to track EVERYONE!

  1. Obviously, if you are logged into Facebook on your computer or mobile device, they are tracking every move you make, every page you hit, picture you like, video you watch, etc… This should come as no big surprise.
  2. If you are NOT a Facebook user and land on any page with a Facebook “Like” button, code or cookie, they can associate your IP Address to that page/search. They can then buy, sell or aggregate that data with any other company that is tracking IP addresses and begins to build profiles on who is behind that IP address. Do that in real time with multiple data aggregators and you can pretty easily out anyone hiding behind an IP address.
  3. If you are a Facebook user and are NOT signed into Facebook and land on any page with a Facebook “Like” button, code or cookie they can associate your IP Address to that page/search. Once you log back into Facebook, their algorithms can quickly tie your “off Facebook” activity to your IP Address/profile and serve up highly targeted data, ad, videos… leaving you to wonder… how the hell they did that? Well, now you know!

It’s important to note that Facebook is not the only group doing this. Hundreds, if not thousands of organizations and data brokers are building profiles on individuals and their behaviors. Facebook just happens to be the scariest because of what they know about you on their platform.