Here’s how to check if your Facebook data was shared with Cambridge Analytica

Facebook has provided a link where you can check if you (or your friends) shared your Facebook data with Cambridge Analytica.

Apparently, mine has not.

Interestingly, one of the biggest misconceptions over the Cambridge Analytica scandal is that there was some sort of “leak” of data from Facebook. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

What occured is that Cambridge Analytica created a Facebook app – thisisyourdigitallife – that asked people questions where they willingly handed over their data (after providing informed consent). Pre-2015, these people also gave consent for this third-party app to see what their Facebook friends were doing also.

Given that the average person has approximately 130 Facebook friends, if 270,000 people used this app, then it stands to reason that Cambridge Analytica has data on more than 35m people. There are some reports that this figure is much higher, around 87m people.

Either way, as I wrote in this piece covering what Facebook and Google knows about you, if the product is free, you’re the product.

What does my Facebook data say about me – and how do I access it?

What is Facebook / Google Data?

Wherever you go online, you leave information behind about yourself. This is referred to as your “digital footprint”.

Consider everything you do when you’re online:
Check into your favourite bar on Facebook.
Post an image of a great dinner at a particular restaurant.
Conduct a Google search for a car.
Fill in an enquiry form.
Visit a website and look at a sneaker product page.

All of these activities leave a “digital trail” of data, that with enough smarts, a good digital marketer can connect the dots on this activity and potentially build an image of you as a person. This “unique” profile may be anonymous; in other words, I may understand that there’s a person who has been undertaking certain activities that lead me to believe that they are buying a car, however I may not know your name, email address or anything specifically about you.

This is known as the difference between anonymous vs attributed data. I may identify one or more groupings of data, and infer that there’s a person wandering around car websites and clicking on car ads, but I may not really know it’s you.

However, the moment you link your Facebook profile or enter your email address, then I can get very specific about you. I will know your name, maybe your age, maybe your address, and I can use a data enrichment program to flesh out more – maybe even take your public posts and other publicly available data to “fill out” your profile.

This is done in order to understand certain things that may allow me a very specific “sell”. For example, if I can see that you have children, I may do better by selling you a 4WD than a two-seater sports car.

How do Facebook and Google know how to target me in this way?

Facebook and Google make money by selling advertising space that is targeted, so I may set up “audiences” within their platforms in order to target you better. Using a pool of advertising content, which I like to call “Content as a service”, I might create hundreds of ads, each of which are slightly different, and each of which might have a slightly different reason to buy the car. For example, three variations on the ad might be:

  1. This car can fit the whole family
  2. This car is fuel efficient
  3. This car is designed and built in Germany

I will deploy those ads on Facebook and Google networks and say to them: Please find me audiences of people who are attracted to that advertising. I may then link certain “marketing automation” elements to optimise further. so if you visited the car website and spent some time on the “fuel efficiency” page, I may communicate that visit so that Facebook and Google know to send you the ad on fuel efficiency.

But Facebook and Google may also know more about you, and are in a far better position to target you than just my assumption based on a website you clicked.

How much do Facebook and Google know about me?

Using these steps, I’ll help you extract all of the data that Facebook and Google know about you – and also the information that apps you’ve installed might know about you.

1. How to access your Google data

Visit: ​​

If you’ve got a Google account (which many billions of people do), then every Google search, YouTube video you’ve watched, every Google Home voice enquiry and every place you’ve visited is logged and tracked here. Every website you’ve visited from a Google search is there. And if that website has Google Analytics installed (which nearly every website in the world does), then Google will know what you’ve visited, how long you visited for, and what activities you undertook on that site. Further, they know about your location, IP address, device you visited on and plenty more.

2. How to access your Google Maps data

Visit: ​

As most people have a smart phone with GPS built in, Google asks for permission to track your location, even if the app isn’t active. In other words, passive tracking of your every move. This link allows you to understand where you’ve been, and allows Google to understand what your movements are, so it might be able to classify you as a “frequent restaurant goer” or “someone who has been visiting car yards” and therefore allow me as an advertiser to target you more effectively.

3. How to access your Google Ad Settings data

Visit: ​

This list shows “topics you like” and “topics you don’t like”. Googles uses searches, web visits and real life visits to understand your interests as a person. It then puts them into a list that only you can see. Advertisers then buy ads on the Google advertising network and may ask for “Everyone who is interested in buying a car within 20 kms of my car showroom”. This list is aggregated and you get served ads on that basis.

4. How to access your Google apps data

Visit: ​

If you use Google to log in to certain apps or websites (called social signon), while you make life easier by not having to remember many different passwords, it does give Google some access to data on the apps and websites you are logged in to. You can see what that access is, and what level of access from this page.

5. How to extract all of your Google data

Visit: ​

Please note – this does not DELETE your data from Google, it only allows you to extract it. However you’ll see there’s a lot there, especially if you use a large number of Google apps and products, from Gmail to YouTube to Google photos.

6. How to track your YouTube search data

After Google itself, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world (Facebook’s search sucks). If you’d like to see what your entire YouTube search history is, click here: ​

7. How to track your YouTube view data

Here’s everything you’ve ever watched on YouTube:

8. Here’s all of your Facebook data

There are a couple of levels of Facebook data. There’s what Facebook knows about you, and then there’s the apps that you have allowed to access your Facebook data.

In order to know who you’ve given access to, click this link: ​
Here you’ll see a huge amount of apps and websites that you may have used to log in (again, Social signon in order to not have to remember multiple email addresses and passwords). Look through these, you may be surprised at how much detail you’ve granted some of these logons, especially the older (pre-2015) apps. These apps often have access to all of your photos, information and friends information. And – you’re the one that allowed them to do it. you can change it or simply remove access.

9. How to access your Facebook ad preferences data

Visit: ​

Here you’ll see all of the various interests Facebook believes you have, based largely on things you’ve liked, things you’ve posted, ads you’ve clicked, places you’ve visited and sites you’re connected to.

10. How to access all of your Facebook Data

It’s extremely hard to lie to Facebook. While you can always put in a false name or username into Instagram or any other platform for that matter, Facebook is excellent at getting the truth out of you. While websites and platforms of old had “usernames” and crazy handles, Facebook rewards honesty: Your real name, your real birthday, your real data. It punishes you by not putting in your true data by not connecting you to your friends as well, an in-built reward mechnism. Therefore it’s by far the most powerful means to gather data on people.

In order to understand what Facebook knows about you, download your Facebook data via this link: ​ – then go to “Download a copy of your Facebook data” on the bottom of the text.

The moral to the story

If you don’t want to share your information online, then it’sbest you don’t register for free services. Remember the truism: If the product is free, you’re the product. There is a tradeoff between what you give and what you get; in marketing this is known as a “value exchange”. If you must use Facebook and Google (which in all honesty I must say are superb services), then be aware that information you share with them and through them with other organisations must be something you are happy to share.

These organisations (and most marketers) treat data with respect – after all, it is a privilege to have information on customers. However be aware of what this data is, how this data might be used, and the nature of the value exchange.

SmartCompany: Me on Twitter’s churn and burn

I’m is quoted in this Patrick Stafford piece in SmartCompany. It’s about Twitter’s appalling churn rate of over 60%.

Some of the reasons why Twitter’s retention rate is so bad:

  1. It’s limited – 140 characters. No video / audio / rich media / expression / detail / depth – yes you can link to those things, but that’s it.
  2. It’s neither a mass broadcast mechanism nor is it targetted. Fine if you want to get a message out to a number of followers in a single moment, but terrible if you are using it for reach or for a more personal or limited conversation.
  3. It’s very easy to set up, so there’s little in terms of “purchase investment”. You register, follow a few people and if you walk away / forget, it’s not like you’ve spent hours of your time – there’s little to “lose” by abandoning it.
  4. It’s a media phenomenon. The media are going nuts over it, when the punters are far less interested. It’s like Second Life – not a day would go by when the media wouldn’t write about Second Life – it drove a spike in interest, but didn’t drive long term usage.
  5. As written in a previous post, Twitter is for old people. Young people couldn’t care less and aren’t using it in any substantial numbers. Older people either don’t have the time, or the interest, so they join up, look around and leave after a while – they don’t keep the ball rolling.
  6. It’s not customisable. I might enjoy some tweets of some people (person focussed), or some tweets by all people (topic focussed), but definitely not all tweets by all people. It needs to be customisable. Right now, whether I like it or not, I have to read the tweets of all of the people I follow on Twitter. You could argue that there are multiple plugins and applications that allow for customisation of Twitter, but the basic beginner user isn’t interested enough (or capable enough) to then look for filters and plugins. So they get bored / frustrated and stop using it.

Read the full article here: Research casts doubt over whether Twitter fad will last – Business news, business advice and information for Australian SMEs | SmartCompany.

Why do I blog?

1. Because I enjoy the discipline of observing & writing.
2. Because I enjoy a rant (even if it’s to very few people) about issues which I’m passionate about.
3. Because some friends are amused by it.
4. Because I can see the stats of what people read, search for and discuss on the blog, thereby gauging the zetgeist.
5. Because … I like to keep track of my thoughts over time, and I don’t like handwriting – blogs are far better at storing thoughts than books.

Blogging Code of Conduct?

…would be a silly idea. The internet has always been an open place, the product of its users. A code of conduct is a waste of time, a limitation. In the early days of the net (and before that, the days of suburban BBSs) there were certain protocols/etiquettes – “netiquettes” you had to adhere to. From memory (and please feel free to add more if you can remember them) they were – in no particular order:

  • Don’t waste bandwidth – if someone writes a big long important email, don’t respond with “cool” – it’s unecessary. Respond properly or don’t respond at all.
  • Remember the human – if you’re going to bag someone on a Usenet/Newsgroup ) or now a Blog, remember that there is a person behind the pseudonym/alias or their real name.
  • DON’T SHOUT! Capitals are loud and rude.
  • CAPITALS for shouting, *asterix* for italics or emphasis.
  • Remember that in normal conversation, facial expressions and vocal tones can change our preceptions – when writing emails or posting on a USENET group, use smileys to reflect the tone 😉
  • Be conservative in what you send and liberal in what you receive – self explanatory
  • If a message, email or post is over 100 lines (remember the thing abotu conserving bandwidth, it’s good to put (LONG) in the subject line

What has changed? These netiquettes are relevant, even if they were developed in those early, nascent days of the net.

“Participation is the new consumption” – from

participation is the new consumption

I LOVE IT. Consumption has consumed itself. Nothing is original. Affluence has become affluenza. The only thing which is original and unique is the journey that you take in life.

Participate. Join in. Does this mean we are about to see a resurgence in participatory democracy? Will membership based organisations all of a sudden reverse their global decline? Is travel going to become far less “tourist”? Will people become bloggers or have bloggers become people? Is it all about family again? Dare I suggest it, have churches such as the pentacostals led global trends?

Or is it as simple as saying goodbye conspicuous consumption, hello “joining in” to holidays, events, membership based organisations, knitting clubs and other things that we “do” rather than “buy”?

There’s definitely going to be a shift in expenditure from goods to services in a digital economy.

EMI = Every Mistake Imaginable

The past few weeks have been somewhat tumultuous in the music industry, with the departure of two of the music industry’s best regarded executives, David Munns and Alain Levy from EMI and the closure of Sir Richard Branson’s V2 record label in the USA (home of the White Stripes, among others).


It’s interesting how a total lack of recognition and adaption of a new business model is slowly killing the recorded music industry from the inside. Live music is still firing, music publishing is fine – but records – oh records, what a sorry state they’re in. A sad state of affairs, but few in that industry are acknowledging the fragmentation and movement from physical distribution to distributed consumption. The former is about a central factory making and distributing artefacts and physical products. The latter is the central factory placing content on a variety of channels and allowing people to consume at will; they choose the time, place and channel.

Every industry will move thorugh these phases:
1. Reduction in the cost of production due to technology and globalisation
2. Increase in number of producers / democratisation of production
3. Increase in number of channels due to digitasation and high cost of physical channels
4. Increase in ability to distribute through channels as internet speeds get higher and computing power gets better / cheaper.
5. Fragmentation of channels and consumption meaning large “culture driving companies” will struggle to impose their products
6. Changes in marketing and advertising – increased personalisation of marketing as fragmentation will lead to a need for greater relevance and “chase” of smaller markets
7. Decoupling of product from time or place (goodbye seasonality, hello songs from twenty years ago randomly appearing in the bottom rungs of charts).

What other ramifications?

Drowning in the BogPond

Telstra’s ISP division, BigPond, has just released its ADSL 2+ service, which is priced at over double the most competitive market ADSL 2+ offering. Incredibly, not only is BigPond offering a paltry 12GB a month under it’s largest volume offer, it also charges for UPLOADS, which means in real terms, BigPond is offering approximately 8-10GB a month offering. Further, there’s no in built VoIP offering, no encouragement of new technologies, no new products or services to justify the huge expense.

BigPond Pricing is here, but I can’t imagine too many people taking up the offer, save for the thousands of morons who are sucked in by blanket advertising and fail to use websites such as Whirlpool to research ISP costs.

It’s a shame that the largest telco in Australia is so out of whack with the best offerings in the market. All of this obsession with content driven internet provision isn’t relevant. It’s not about ISPs having their product commoditised, it’s about bringing in new product to the market and maintaining margins with innovation and service. They may argue their differentiator is their content, however content is GLOBAL, BigPond is only buying certain local content. They might argue it’s sport that will be the “killer app”, however sport is still available on many different platforms, not just IP based.

Content with cables isn’t the answer to Telstra’s woes, especially when it’s so bloody expensive.

Wired’s lesson: “Let everything happen and measure it”

The Editor of Wired, Chris Anderson, has come out with this very interesting perspective, echoing what I was saying earlier in the week:

He described how the old magazine model is one based on scarcity, where its the editor’s job to day “no” and contrasted this to the new web model, where it’s all about saying “yes”.

He suggested that it’s now the web, or rather, the audience that works out if its any good or not.

Talking about business planning, he described how in the old world, you used to write business models explaining how you were going to get ROI, now you just do it and see if it works.

According to Chris, everything is bottom-up, including management.

He now does everything his interns tell him to do, they recently suggested doing a press conference in Second Life, which he did.

“Let everything happen and measure it”, were his parting words.