Do you know where your Facebook data goes


Most of us are aware of Facebook collecting huge amounts of data about us, its user. This is not just about what we post or what we like, it is also about but not limited to, when we go online, for how long, with whom we are friends with and who we talk to. But do we actually know, where all our information and data is being stored and how exactly Facebook ensures the security of our data? We can adapt our privacy settings, share less through Facebook and read into Facebook’s terms and conditions and their data security. But do we know where our data is located? After all, it has to be stored somewhere. According to Techcrunch, the amount of data collected by Facebook per day in 2012 was about 500 terabytes. This number will have likely increased by today, due to the increase in amount of Facebook users since then. According to Facebook’s corporate website, its data centers are currently located in Altoona, Forest City, Lulea, and Prineville, with a co-located facility in Ashburn. All but one the data center in Lulea, Sweden, are located in the US. Facebook does not disclose which data is stored in each location.

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I bet that few of you have ever considered which laws might apply to where your data is stored. But this might be an important factor for data security and protection of privacy. Given that Facebook stores the majority of its data in the United States, who ever thought about the exact privacy laws that apply there? And what if the data was moved to a data warehouse in another country? In my opinion, many people do not even know the exact regulations for data protection of their home countries. Which laws apply, depends on where the data is stored and not on where it originates from. After the Snowden revelations, I have thought more about where my data might end up. Most probably, it is of no particular interest to anybody to read my Facebook messages and check on my likes, but I would still feel uncomfortable if my data ended up at the NSA. We are being watched by the American intelligent agencies, even without any reasonable suspicion.

On Wednesday, 23rd September 2015,  an opinion by European court of justice advocate general Yves Bot, could be a start to change transatlantic data flows considerably and protect the data of European users considerably more. This opinion has yet to be confirmed by the Luxemburg court as final. If confirmed, this could cause a lot of trouble for multinational companies, who store their data in the US. The data would have to be protected considerably more and especially, not be so easily accessible to intelligence agencies. Many multinationals, Facebook included, would have to seriously modify their strategies and rework their data privacy practices and compliance. This could be a big win for the data protection of all Europeans. In the end, data protection to be a combination of taking care which data of oneself is put online and the protection through laws of one’s data being as save as possible.

http://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/

http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/22/how-big-is-facebooks-data-2-5-billion-pieces-of-content-and-500-terabytes-ingested-every-day/

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/aug/09/facebook-privacy-settings-users-mobile-phone-number

https://www.facebook.com/policy.php

http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=168421&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=330213

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/23/us-intelligence-services-surveillance-privacy

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4 responses to “Do you know where your Facebook data goes”

  1. 370681pd says :

    I believe this is an interesting topic as well as an important issue that we all should care about. So, thank you for sharing such a blog post with us.

    I agree to your statement that most of the Facebook users are aware of the fact that Facebook is collecting huge amounts of data. However, I do think that many people just know it and do not really care about it. Most of the people are still using Facebook even though they know this fact of data collection. In addition, the number of users of Facebook is increasing every day.

    Even most of us are aware of the data collection, we indeed do not consider the law regulations. This can maybe also be linked to the fact that we are not busy in that kind of sector or we are just not interested. Personally, to be honest, I am aware of the data collection fact and also about the different law regulations in different countries. However, I just accept this and do not take any action. I think that many people are in this situation. Nevertheless, I believe that we should think more about the possible consequences of this fact as you also put forward.

    After reading your blog post I did some extra reading on the Internet. I found a newspaper article, to be found at http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/facebook-will-face-25000-users-european-courts-over-privacy-breach-claims-1459962, that fortunately there are also people who take action and got a lot of support.

    I believe that these kind of issues are actually highly important as it is about our personal information and actions. This could have consequences that we maybe do not really care about now, but it may influence our future somehow.

    • 370033ss says :

      Thank you for the comment. I agree with you that this issue can be a problem in the future. For now, everything is still ok. People are aware of it, but most individuals cannot feel the negative consequences. Once our data has been collected by one of these companies, it “belongs” to them and not longer to us. There should be more control mechanisms for our own data. I found this interesting HBR article on this: https://hbr.org/2014/11/with-big-data-comes-big-responsibility

  2. J.A.W. says :

    An easy tool for comparing the different data protection laws is found at: http://bit.ly/1IUXl32
    Besides that, there is a handbook which shows the laws per country: http://bit.ly/1gTY48o

    These tools point out that the United States have different laws, whereas Sweden implemented the (outdated) EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC.

    • 370033ss says :

      Thank you for your comment. It is indeed possible to compare the different laws on data protection, but how many people who use Facebook do you think are actually doing so? I believe that there should be more transparency on where your data goes and who can access.

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