How Well Does Facebook Know Us?

The SciFri staff discusses the assumptions Facebook makes about us.

Facebook knows a LOT about you.

Last week, we talked with Manoush Zomorodi of WNYC’s Note to Self podcast and Eric Umansky of ProPublica about how free internet services can cost you your privacy. One of the big takeaways? Facebook infers information about you based on your likes, comments, and other activities and serves you ads based on that.

You can actually see what Facebook has assumed about you here—just click on the information tab or the interests tab. Sometimes its assumptions are accurate. Other times…not so much.

The SciFri staff took a look to see what Facebook got right, or wrong, about us.

The following Slack conversation has been edited for length, clarity, and grammar.

Annie Nero, individual giving manager:

This seems accurate: Smartphone user with a wifi connection. Debatable whether I fall under the category of Gen X’er.

Christie Taylor, associate producer:

I want to know where Facebook learned I have roommates.

Rachel Bouton, events manager: Guys…it thinks I’m interested in quilting.

Charles Bergquist, director:

But what I really need you to address in your article, Brandon, is this:

Rachel: Charles, I am also interested in male!

Charles: Let’s compare notes sometime, Rachel!

Xochitl Garcia, education assistant: 

I am apparently into the overseas transportation of merino wool.


Apparently I am very into perspiration.

Rachel: Who isn’t, Christie?

Brandon Echter, engagement manager:

It’s true, one of my hobbies is dogs.

Charles: But YOU REMOVED automobiles, Brandon? What are you trying to hide from Facebook’s all-seeing eye?

[Author note: For the record, I don’t own a car]

What about you? What does Facebook think it knows about you? Check here and let us know in the comments.

Meet the Writer

About Brandon Echter

Brandon Echter was Science Friday’s digital managing editor. He loves space, sloths, and cephalopods, and his aesthetic is “cultivated schlub.”

Explore More