The week of May 3, 2015

Facebook knows even more about you than you realize

By Mike Wehner

I’ve been on Facebook since 2007, which means I’ve been giving the social network bits and pieces of myself for three quarters of a decade already. If you’re like me, your daily Facebook activity isn’t anything too intense—like a video, comment on a status, and get on with my day—but over time the slow drip of information begins to gather into a puddle, then a pool, and eventually an ocean.

To paint a picture of just how much information Facebook has managed to get out of me over the past eight years, I’ve dug deep into my profile history and mined as much as possible. The results surprised even me.

We spend our digital lives fiercely guarding even the smallest bits of our personal information from anyone who might want to use it for ill. Any time a company has even the most modest of security breaches, we wring our hands over the thought of our addresses and phone numbers sitting in the hands of a nameless, faceless threat, and yet I and millions of others have gleefully handed over all that and much, much more, without fully realizing the potential implications.

Using even a fraction of the information Facebook has about me and other users, an extremely detailed image of our habits, movements, and personalities can be drawn. It’s a gold mine for marketers and hackers alike.

Here is everything Facebook knows about me—and probably you, too.


  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Birthday
  • Hair color
  • Eye color
  • Race


  • Current city of residence
  • Hometown
  • Past places I’ve lived (1)
  • When I moved from one location to another
  • How long I lived at each location


  • My sister
  • My brothers-in-law (2)
  • My uncle
  • My cousins (2)
  • My wife
  • My nephew
  • My extended family

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  • My past girlfriends
  • When each of my past relationships began
  • When each of my past relationships ended
  • Exactly how long each of my previous relationships lasted


  • Personal phone number
  • Work phone number
  • Past phone numbers (2)
  • Personal email address
  • Work email address
  • Old personal email addresses (3)
  • Old work email addresses (2)


  • My PayPal account
  • My credit card number


  • All of my friends’ names
  • Which friends I’m actually friends with and which ones are just on my friends list
  • Which friends I don’t actually like talking to
  • Which friends I blocked on Messenger to avoid awkward conversations
  • Which friends I like enough to get updates from
  • Which friends I like so much that I have subscribed to their every action


  • High school I attended
  • College I attended
  • Years I attended each school
  • Year I graduated from high school
  • Year I graduated from college


  • Career
  • Current job
  • Past jobs (3)
  • Length of employment at past jobs


  • Languages I speak
  • Political leanings
  • Who I voted for (national elections)
  • Who I voted for (local elections)
  • Religious beliefs


  • My AIM screenname
  • My MSN screenname
  • My LinkedIn profile
  • My Twitter profile
  • My Myspace profile
  • My Foursquare profile
  • My Yelp profile
  • My Tumblr blogs (2)
  • The sites I comment on


  • My Xbox Live gamertag
  • My PlayStation network ID
  • My Wii friend code
  • My Wii U friend code
  • My 3DS friend code
  • My Steam ID


  • My favorite bands
  • My favorite TV shows
  • My favorite movies
  • My favorite books
  • My favorite console video games
  • My favorite PC video games
  • My favorite foods
  • My favorite color
  • My favorite websites
  • My favorite streamers
  • My favorite iOS apps
  • My favorite Android apps
  • My favorite coffee shop
  • My favorite pizza place
  • My favorite football team
  • My favorite baseball team


  • Weddings I’ve attended or avoided
  • Parties I’ve attended or avoided
  • Sporting events I’ve attended to avoided
  • Meetings I’ve attended or avoided
  • Everything else I’ve been invited to that I did or did not attend


  • Every place I’ve visited in roughly the past decade
  • Every work trip I’ve been on since I began my career
  • How long each trip lasted, and my days of arrival and departure
  • What hotel I stayed at during my first visit to Los Angeles
  • What hotels I stayed at during each subsequent visit to Los Angeles
  • Where I stayed during my trips to CES in Las Vegas
  • Where I ate on my last in night in Las Vegas, and who I was with
  • Where I stayed during my trip to North Carolina
  • What kind of car I rented while I was in North Carolina


  • Which sports I played in school
  • The fact that I don’t really like baseball and have never visited my team’s page
  • How well I do in fantasy football
  • What my punishment was for placing last overall in fantasy football in 2013


  • My eBay account
  • My Amazon account
  • Many of my Amazon purchases
  • My Audible account
  • Which audiobooks I’ve purchased on Audible
  • Which audiobooks I’ve actually listened to after purchasing them
  • My various app habits
  • Which friends I’ve invited to play apps with me

• • 


  • How often I work out
  • The length of my bike rides
  • The routes I like to take for my bike rides
  • The time of day I usually go for bike rides


  • My morning playlists
  • My deep focus playlist
  • How often I listen to each song
  • My most-played songs of all time
  • Which songs I consider guilty pleasures
  • Which songs I (embarrassingly) listen to on repeat for hours

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  • Where I use Facebook
  • What device I have connected to Facebook
  • Every device I’ve ever used to connect to Facebook
  • Every browser I’ve ever used to connect to Facebook
  • Every one of the 127 apps I’ve used my Facebook login on

Of course, even this isn’t as detailed a picture as Facebook could paint of me if it wanted to—and given that the site earns revenue from highly targeted advertising, it presumably does. Facebook also has hundreds of photos, comments, updates, rants, and a rich collection of my opinions.

And yet, every scrap of that information I’ve willfully handed over—to a company I don’t entirely trust. Facebook didn’t force me to give it all of these details, but I’ve done it because, for me anyway, that’s the cost of having an online social life.

Illustrations by Max Fleishman