Let’s put aside Instagram, WhatsApp and other Facebook products for a minute. Facebook has built the world’s biggest social network. But that’s not what they sell. You’ve probably heard the internet saying “if a product is free, it means that you are the product.”
And it’s particularly true in this case because Facebook is the world’s second biggest advertising company in the world behind Google. During the last quarter of 2017, Facebook reported $12.97 billion in revenue, including $12.78 billion from ads.
That’s 98.5 percent of Facebook’s revenue coming from ads.
Ads aren’t necessarily a bad thing. But Facebook has reached ad saturation in the newsfeed. So the company has two options -creating new products and ad formats, or optimizing those sponsored posts.
This isn’t a zero-sum game — Facebook has been doing both at the same time. That’s why you’re seeing more ads on Instagram and Messenger. And that’s also why ads on Facebook seem more relevant than ever.If Facebook can show you relevant ads and you end up clicking more often on those ads, then advertisers will pay Facebook more money.So Facebook has been collecting as much personal data about you as possible — it’s all about showing you the best ad. The company knows your interests, what you buy, where you go and who you’re sleeping with.You can’t hide from FacebookFacebook’s terms and conditions are a giant lie. They are purposely misleading, too long and too broad. So you can’t just read the company’s terms of service and understand what it knows about you.That’s why some people have been downloading their Facebook data. You can do it too, it’s quite easy. Just head over to your Facebook settings and click the tiny link that says “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”In that archive file, you’ll find your photos, your posts, your events, etc. But if you keep digging, you’ll also find your private messages on Messenger (by default, nothing is encrypted).And if you keep digging a bit more, chances are you’ll also find your entire address book and even metadata about your SMS messages and phone calls.