FACEBOOK: How private is your 'private' info? (Not very) - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

FACEBOOK: How private is your 'private' info? (Not very)

The Facebook privacy policy. (Source: RNN) The Facebook privacy policy. (Source: RNN)

(RNN) - From their current relationship status to where they plan to go this weekend to where they are in real-time, 845 million people worldwide trust their personal information to Facebook.

But have you ever thought about what information the company holds on to, and what it would take to access it?

Facebook opened up even more archived personal information to its users in mid-April, 18 months after it first introduced its "Download Your Information" feature.

The archived files include public as well as private information, and further supports claims the social networking company holds on to information its users would rather it didn't.

And all you need is your password to access it.

To get the information, a user must submit a request for the files then re-enter his or her password. The password prompt is all Facebook uses to verify that the information is in fact being accessed by the user who requested it, and not an unauthorized party. 

(Note to self: Keep your password very, very secure.)

The 2010 archive provides a copy of wall posts made to and by users, a list of events they've said they'd go to and transcripts of past messages.

The company allows users to see a partial list of IP addresses used to log in to their profiles, a list of pending friend requests, information on "pokes," a history of past relationship statuses and information on when they've logged into the site.

And that's just a fraction of data the social media giant keeps.

According to the group Europe versus Facebook, the company keeps tracks of at least 84 categories related to each user profile. The current available data download only holds a small fraction of these.

Europe versus Facebook was started by Austrian law student Max Schrems, according to the New York Times. Schrems requested his information from Facebook in July 2011, citing Facebook's operations in Ireland.

The company's presence in the area brought it under European and Irish data and protection laws, which give users the right to get copies of all their raw data from companies.

Schrems joined Facebook in June 2008.

The file he got back from the company was more than 1,200 pages long.

The revelation led to an investigation by the Irish Data Protection Commission and shed light on how comprehensive Facebook's data logging is. The case also sparked debates on social media privacy in Congress.

More than 40,000 European and Irish residents have requested their information since October 2011.

The United States doesn't have a law requiring companies to disclose what information they keep on users.

By December 2011, Facebook had surpassed 845 million active users - three times the population of the United States.

The House of Representatives passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) on April 26, which gives companies like Facebook more leeway to share sensitive personal information about its users with other companies and the federal government.

There is little an individual can do if they feel their information should not have been shared.  And companies have no obligation to tell users their information is being shared.

Senior White House officials have said they would recommend the president veto CISPA if it makes it past the Senate, citing a myriad of privacy concerns.

In the meantime, a number of groups, including Facebook itself, have addressed concerns over the privacy of information on social media sites. A number of organizations have also worked to figure out just what information stays in the Facebook databank, and what if anything is tossed aside.

In November 2011, Facebook settled with the Federal Trade Commission after the FTC found the company's privacy promises "deceiving."

Facebook has since revamped its privacy policies and agreed to go through an audit of its policies every two years for at least the next 20 years.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

How do I download my information on Facebook? (SIDEBAR)


How do I download my information on Facebook? Log in to your Facebook account. In the upper right-hand corner of the page, click on the downward arrow to the right of the "Home" button. Click on "Account More>>

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