There is a lot of talking these days about Facebook getting data about people who are not on Facebook, but not enough on WHO gives Facebook those data.

USA Today, for example, recently explained that:

  1. One of the main ways the social network can gather details on someone who hasn’t signed up occurs when someone you know who is on Facebook shares his or her phone contact list with the service, which they’re encouraged to do so that they can more easily find their friends. At the very least Facebook may discover your address, phone number and email this way, and, obviously also knows that you know the friend who revealed the contact list.
  2. Your friends may also tag you in photos and, wittingly or not, spill the beans on other details you might otherwise wish to keep private.
  3. A second way information typically is leaked to Facebook is through the websites you drop in on. [if those websites have] a “Like” button or other social plug-in, your browser may send Facebook a limited set of info.

This is wrong in many ways. One is the fact that all those data are also available to whoever manages to crack Facebook’s servers. Another is that, if you are not a Facebook user, the only way to stop Facebook from collecting your data is… to become a Facebook user. But those are other issues. Here and now, I want to highlight two other things.

The first is that all of the above includes, or may include some time, also all the data about you that are available through (at least) WhatsApp and Instagram, since both those services belong to Facebook. What is particularly (not) funny here is that the worst offenders often are the same so-called digital natives who still “consider the phone number sacred”.

Who gives Facebook data about non-Facebook users? /img/texting-is-more-personal-because-phone-number-is-sacred.png
Trust us digital natives! By definition, when it comes to digital life, we know by ourselves what makes sense and what doesn't

The second, and most important one, is that those who say “if you are not the customer, you are the product” are wrong, or in the best case only partially right. The truth is that:

If you are not the customer, YOUR FRIENDS are the product

Who gives Facebook data about non-Facebook users? /img/badmanners-everywhere.jpg
digital communication services have also greatly extended the scope of bad manners

THIS is the real meaning of the first two points of the list above.

If you knew that your friends are giving your phone number to e.g. a smartphone shop to get a discount on their next smartphone, you would probably slap them, or at least be very upset for their complete lack of tact and good manners. But when they do exactly the same, same thing, just digitally, that is when they give your phone number to WhatsApp, or Telegram, or Gmail or Facebook etc.. you don’t even notice. Isn’t it time to change attitude?

Who gives Facebook data about non-Facebook users? /img/quick-me-all-data-of-your-friends.jpg