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Facebook Data Miner Will Shock You 164

MojoKid (1002251) writes "A new website sponsored by Ubisoft as part of its advertising campaign for the upcoming hacking-themed game Watch Dogs isn't just a plug for the title — it's a chilling example of exactly how easy it is for companies to mine your data. While most folks are normally averse to giving any application or service access to their Facebook account, the app can come back with some interesting results if you dare. Facebook's claims that it can identify you with 98.3% accuracy based on images.The Datashadow app also offers the ability to compare various character traits and gives a great deal of information about total number of posts, post times and inferred values about income, location, and lifestyle. Is Ubisoft actually performing some kind of data analysis? Almost certainly not. This is far from an exhaustive, comprehensive examination of someone's personality or FB posting habits. The companies that actually perform that kind of data analysis are anything but cheap. The point Ubisoft is making, however, is that your FB profile contains enormous amounts of information in a single place that can be mined in any number of ways. All of this information absolutely is combined and collated to create detailed digital profiles of all of us, and the more we engage with various online services (from Facebook to Google Plus), the larger the data pool becomes."
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Facebook Data Miner Will Shock You

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  • by AltGrendel ( 175092 ) <ag-slashdotNO@SPAMexit0.us> on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:05AM (#46839755) Homepage
    ...I don't use Facebook. I'd keep away from it all if I could, but it's hard to be in the tech industry these days and have no/minimal online presence.
    • by erikkemperman ( 252014 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:14AM (#46839821)

      ...I don't use Facebook.

      Me neither, but don't forget that FB does keep profiles on non-members too. And your friends who are on FB might mention you by name, upload photo's with you in it, and so on.

    • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @09:02AM (#46840063)

      ...I don't use Facebook. I'd keep away from it all if I could, but it's hard to be in the tech industry these days and have no/minimal online presence.

      It doesn't matter. Everything you do online is tracked and logged by a handful of large marketing software firms. Googles probably the biggest. They log key data points about you as you do this. Lots of things you probably don't even think about like which fonts you have installed, your preferred OS, monitor resolution. All of this data on it's own seems harmless but combined it creates a very unique fingerprint for you.

      The marketing software has plugins that websites can install, then the data about you is collected and stored in a centralized database. It's shared between all of the marketing companies clients. The end result is almost all of your data ends up in the same place regardless of what you do. You may have separate logins for Slashdot and that porns site, but that doesn't matter. They know your 2 separate accounts are for the same person. They might not know exactly who you are, but they don't need to. They just need to know you're shopping for tube socks, and display lots of adds for that. Oh, and by the way, once you finally buy the tube socks? Now all your accounts really are linked to your name.

      • Since it has been known there has been addon and programs to randomize that for you adding/removing unused fonts/drivers/codecs/etc.... Naturally this is an escalation race until then next one they use to identify. But in the mean time good luck linking all my persona together.
        • programs to randomize that for you adding/removing unused fonts [...] good luck linking all my persona together.

          Hmm we have a set of visits who have a nonstandard font collection, and only comic sans and wingings are consistently in the list... must be aepervius!

        • And its been shown repeatedly that using most of those 'anonymouizers' actually makes you easier to sport rather than harder.

    • I don't think it's hard to be in "the business" without a stupid Facebook page. Aside from a few dummy test accounts, I've been gainfully employed for years without a FB presence. If you really want an online presence, create a blog and post some interesting research, etc. That, IMHO, would be way better than playing Farmville or whatever the FB game of choice is thesedays.
    • You have an account here and you posted as AltGrendel... you know there are a lot of AltGrendels -> on other web sites just google them.
    • by idji ( 984038 )
      Facebook knows who your family is, where you work, who your kids are and all of their friends and teachers and everybody else you have known for the last 20 years, because they all gave Facebook and Whats App access to their entire address book. It simply doesn't matter what you did - each of your email addresses is a GUID point to you.
    • by sstamps ( 39313 )

      I don't and never will use Farcebork or any kind of social media service which is specifically designed to profit off of me, using my personal information, without my permission or consent, let alone knowledge.

  • link (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    would it be too much to ask for a link to the website you're talking about

    • Re:link (Score:5, Informative)

      by bemenaker ( 852000 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:38AM (#46839939)
      digitalshadow.com It's interesting to see what it says. I was suprised more by how much it got wrong, than by what it got right.
      • Apparently I use facebook so little that it knows nothing about me except for I have 20 friends who I never talk to.

      • by zaren ( 204877 )

        The "password hacking attempt" at the bottom of the page had me concerned for a moment, but after seeing that it was just iterating common words found on my FB page with random l33tsp34k, I stopped worrying. I liked how they labeled one of my best friends (best man at my wedding) and my god daughter as stalking targets. I wasn't that impressed with the site.

      • Doesn't seem to want to let me auth, US only?
        • by Chrisq ( 894406 )
          Same here:

          We could not log you in: You can't log in to this app because you do not meet this app's requirements for country, age or other criteria.

          • by wirefarm ( 18470 )

            It's also not available to facebook accounts that are under "administrative hold", the term they use for accounts and those under subpoenas and national security letters.

        • by grahammm ( 9083 )

          What is the purpose of restricting it to US only? Do they think that people outside the US would not be interested in seeing what could be mined about them from Facebook?

  • by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:08AM (#46839775)

    You know it's true.

  • Wolfram Alpha (Score:4, Interesting)

    by astro ( 20275 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:11AM (#46839799) Homepage

    I'd place a small wager that Ubi partnered with Wolfram Alpha on this - I did the Watch Dogs thing about a week ago, and thought it was actually a quite coolly stylized representation of basically very close to what WA spits out as analysis of my Facebook profile. I wasn't shocked. Rather, I thought it was pretty trick marketing, and was impressed.

  • You think? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by adam525 ( 813427 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:11AM (#46839803) Homepage
    You send ALL of your pictures and your phone number and your email address to this site..

    Every morning you post everything that little mitzi and junior did at the ball game yesterday, as if anyone cares. You're favorite movies, books, TV shows, who you are in a relationship with. People will put EVERYTHING about them in their Facebook profile, and then they're surprised that it's easy for this company to track your habits, or for potential employers to screen you?
    • You're favorite movies

      No, I am NOT favorite movies.

      That aside, I don't use FB. So there wasn't any data for that site to mine.

      • You're favorite movies

        No, I am NOT favorite movies.

        That aside, I don't use FB. So there wasn't any data for that site to mine.

        Are you sure? You didn't give them data about you -- at least not directly and on purpose -- but who's to say your friends and family haven't? (And since you and I aren't using facebook, we know even less about what's being said about us there . . . ) And by "friends", I mean the facebook definition of "friend," i.e. someone who knows you by name. Does facebook collect and analyze this anecdotal evidence about us non-facebook users? If there's money to be made at it, I'd guess "yes".

        • No one who knows me by name and is on Facebook posts anything about me. I've asked.

          • Do you mean that you've asked people in that group, and they've told you that they don't post things about you on FB ; or do you mean that you've asked all people who know you to NOT post stuff about you on FB?

            For the last year I've been logging into my FB account less than once every 3 months, and most of the time I'm there I've been deleting old photos, posts, etc. It must be a couple of years since I added a friend to my circle (or whatever they're called). Deeply, deeply distrustful of FB. And Google.

            • and most of the time I'm there I've been deleting old photos, posts, etc

              Plus, of course, spending 20 minutes flagging absolutely every advert they show me as being one of "offensive", "repetitive" or "sexually explicit". Shitting in their data mine like that may not be very effective, but it's a small strike for the common man against the corporations.

  • Anyone who has a legitimate concern for their privacy and personal security has absolutely rid themselves of google plus and facebook. It didnt take a clever app to convince us, foiled fedoras or not, that we were as much a product as a herd of free-range cattle. our cud would be our status, the apple our friend request. We were to spend lazy afternoons basking on the hillside in the glow of farmville and grow strong and fat on content from friends and our mobile devices. This app is the same as working
  • The actual website (Score:5, Informative)

    by SigmundFreud ( 656053 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:19AM (#46839845) Homepage
    Pity the article did not mention it: the site can be found at http://digitalshadow.com/ [digitalshadow.com] It seems to be US only, though.
    • by weave ( 48069 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @09:05AM (#46840087) Journal

      Watch Dogs Digital Shadow will receive the following info: your public profile, friend list, News Feed, relationships, birthday, work history, status updates, education history, groups, hometown, interests, current city, photos, religious and political views, follows and followers, personal description and likes and your friends' status updates and photos.

      So basically you give them access to all of your data, and then they tell you all about you.

      What a shock.

      • Basically it parrots back to you the information you just gave it access to from your Facebook profile, does some simple statistical calculations from your posts, adds some horoscope-style comments about your personality (I think mine was based on the fact that "craft beer" is one of my Likes), then generates a list of the kinds of dumb passwords that people come up with, based on their birth year, interests, whatever (3dward1970).

        I wish I made as much money as it thinks I do.

  • Ha (Score:3, Funny)

    by synapse7 ( 1075571 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:20AM (#46839857)

    I don't have facebook, so the shock, is on you! hahahaha

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      I don't have facebook, so the shock, is on you! hahahaha

      Well given that only the Zuck has Facebook, that's hardly surprising.

    • Don't worry. Even if you don't have FB, FB has you.

      The difference between having a FB account and not having one is only how much control you retain over your information. Not having one does not mean you're not present there. Your friends, coworkers, other people who deal with you have FB pages and whatever they write about you will be on there. And that's what is going to be on FB about you. For good or ill, correct or not.

      Personally, I prefer to add a bit of misinformation, just in case my "friends" post

  • There's this line in the article that says "people with similar beliefs tend to cluster together" -- it may be my best defense against datamining me. The people I have on my Facebook - account pretty much have nothing in common with me except for family members, and even they only share blood with me. If you were to base your opinion on me on the people that have added me to their circles you'd pretty much be totally off the course.

    • Problem is that it's easier to hide in a crowd than alone. It might be much easier to ID you if your thoughts/preferences stand out. Blending into a crowd obscures your personal data.
      • That's real world thinking that doesn't translate to the internet.

        How does blending into a crowd obscure anything on facebook?

        • Well I tag myself as random people in others' photos in an effort to poison the well. Some of my friends have started doing this as well once they questioned why I do that.
  • by kcmastrpc ( 2818817 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:36AM (#46839933)
    Using this one weird trick!!!
  • Something to do (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kqc7011 ( 525426 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:50AM (#46840003)
    I feed most / some my profiles with false information. The email address that I use for sign-ups gets most of my spam. The land line that I use for sign-ups goes to a two ring answering machine with a short message and minimum time to record the spiel. The intentional misspelling of my name shows up on my junk snail mail. The multitude of birthdays that I have show up regularly. I sign up for emailing lists that I have no interest in, then after awhile remove myself from said lists. Those are just some of the things done.
    • I sign up for emailing lists that I have no interest in, then after awhile remove myself from said lists. Those are just some of the things done.

      Congratulations! You have the most boring life I've ever heard of. The sad part is that you seem to be proud of it.

  • by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:51AM (#46840007)

    believe that slashdotters' posting habits and contents of their comments are of no mining interest to anyone?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly, all of this goes into developing profiles of your political beliefs and a wide variety of other things. See my anonymous comment titled "it's worse than that". There's a reason you can't post to /. without enabling javascript even though web forms and http posts were designed to work without javascript. Javascript is the means through which spying takes place, irrespective of Tor or anonymous proxy use. See EFF's panopticon project for why javascript enables them to nail you uniquely no matter what

  • It really won't shock me at all. Stupid Privoxy and its list of URL requests :-(

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Online companies need to totally violate the populations need for privacy about things like life style orientation, health status, psychological profile, bad or deviant habits, etc., in contraindication to existing laws and intents contained within the legal system so they can continue to provide it to the NSA wholesale under likely secret laws. This is why, with the unholy collusion of our corporacratic oligarchocracy that the actual electorate has no say in the matter and is not being represented by it's

  • by aviators99 ( 895782 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:57AM (#46840041) Homepage

    It's like a sick joke! They have a site that shows how much data they can mine (with your permission) and then they can do whatever they want with it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 25, 2014 @09:03AM (#46840067)

    Some of the same entities who maintain databases on you also develop and maintain personal profiles on you. This includes things like ability to defer gratification, sexual promiscuity / addiction, likelihood of having an STD (and which one(s)), sexual fetishes level of argumentativeness or agreeableness, your rank on a scale of respect for or defiance of authority,,(authoritarian scale), detailed political beliefs, number of past boyfriend or girlfriends and whether you were dumped or dumpee, likely personal frailties (vanity, you think you're too fat, you think you're smart, you conduct yourself with an exaggerated sense of entitlement). All o this is derived from FB ad other places and is used to profile you in various contexts from advertising to getting a job to loan applications to security checks and personal "risk profiles".

    Trust me. .

  • by z_gringo ( 452163 ) <z_gringo@@@hotmail...com> on Friday April 25, 2014 @09:04AM (#46840071)
    I use Facebook quite a bit. I also leave nearly all of my information as viewable publicly. This digital shadow app couldn't even accurately present information that is publicly posted or information to which it was given implicit access by logging in through Facebook. Location, Active times, close friends, income.. All completely wrong. I think that page is just a ruse to gain access to your Facebook information, which will then be used for other purposes.
  • Shock me? No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fascismforthepeople ( 2805977 ) <fascismforthepeople@gmail.com> on Friday April 25, 2014 @09:14AM (#46840147) Homepage Journal
    I would be shocked if it drove people to stop giving up private information for free to facebook.
  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Friday April 25, 2014 @09:16AM (#46840167)

    Sidenote: While you are reading this, 6 trackers on slashdot.org are tracking you.

    Just saying.

    • by dltaylor ( 7510 )

      Not on my browser install.

      BTW, in English, the proper names of languages, such as German, are capitalized.

  • Nope. This is exactly what I expected. Thanks for playing.

    Also, why do you have a link-bait title? Have we stooped so low?

  • > The point Ubisoft is making, however, is that your FB profile contains enormous
    > amounts of information in a single place that can be mined in any number of ways.

    Yeah, that's why we like it. That's why we use it. It's the point of Facebook. Without that info, what exactly would it be?

    Seriously, if people didn't like it they'd have stopped using it by now. Please take the paranoia elsewhere; some of us have a life.

  • Unless you really _really_ open yourself up to Facebook, the info isnt a whole lot of good. They were totally off on where I was located, but were kind of close to where I worked but were also totally off the mark on income. The tags to/from classifications are interesting but really one dimensional.

    I did like the list of easy to remember passwords they generated at the end, though.

  • that data mining is going on in this establishment...

  • It may be a coincidence. After giving permission to this Ubisoft site, my poker account of facebook was banned. What gives? Is the page a ruse to gain access to your facebook account?

    • Is the page a ruse to gain access to your facebook account?

      I don't follow. Did they ask for your Facebook password? There's you answer.

  • Facebook Data Miner Will Shock You

    No, no it won't. But only six words in I already feel like this story is treating me like an idiot. Nice.

  • The first thing all the security people tell you to do is turn off platform apps, and this site does not work without them. Nice.
  • by DarwinSurvivor ( 1752106 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @10:19AM (#46840641)

    We could not log you in: You can't log in to this app because you do not meet this app's requirements for country, age or other criteria.

    I am the shadow, and the smoke in your eyes, I am the ghost, that hides in the night.

    Bow before your elusive target!

  • No, not another stupid Farmville crap browser game where you're supposed to toss money at it. No, Facebook, the game.

    The goal is to show up in a marketing research as someone who is anything but you.

    If you play well, you can win your privacy.

  • While most folks are normally averse to giving any application or service access to their Facebook account

    Really? Most folks? I personally am averse to doing this (I also go to the 'extreme' of only ever using Facebook inside a Private Browsing window, you know, as a /. tin-foil-hat-wearer and all), but there are a lot of people who happily integrate, say, Spotify and Facebook.

  • So I just tried it (it's digitalshadow.com if you are having trouble digging it up), and it's not great shakes. Mostly I got "Insufficient Data", but what few things it worked out it got mostly--even comically--wrong.
  • So why not use it but with wrong info? I caved because I was losing contact with some people that only network via social media. They got tired of emails and were impossible to get on a phone. My profile has nothing of importance. No location info. And all the data I did put in is wrong, grossly wrong. I never message directly with detailed info, I will just reply telling them to swap to email. This works for both of us. And harvesters have a very good set of data on me. It's just all wrong.
  • by kgskgs ( 938843 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @10:35AM (#46840759) Journal

    What shocked me indeed was the headline of the posting.
    We have seen enough of these "This will shock you" in tabloids and lately even on CNN.
    I am shocked to see this at Slashdot on consecutive two days.
    Yesterday there was some other headline about how some rubber band shapes shocked scientists.

    Let me read the headline and let me decide whether I want to be shocked or not. Why are you telling me that I will be shocked?
    Pathetic!! Real pathetic!! Nothing turns me off more than the following three types of headlines.

    "What this person said will shock you"
    "XXX did what to stop XXX ?"
    "The five things every should ..."

    Slashdot is turning into tabloid. Instead of printing about trashy reality shows and gossip about royal families, they somehow find things related to technology. That's the only difference.
    Slashdot, this had been a major turnoff.


  • Why are you using Facebook?

  • by Sir_Eptishous ( 873977 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @10:58AM (#46840959) Homepage
    FB logins are now required more and more to do things online.
    A favorite radio station I listen to this morning mentioned all requests now must come via FB login.
    Can't they see how utterly wrong this is?
    It amazes me that anyone has to have this explained.

    Then there are government entities, cities, counties, etc, that are requiring FB logins to communicate or connect with them.
    This is so utterly wrong on so many levels.
  • Here's [digitalshadow.com] the URL that is missing from the summary.
    BTW, this is child's play compared to what Google can do. Not to even mention the NSA...
  • I ran it, (after pausing all my various blocking wares), and in most fields it came up with: "insufficient data." Elsewhere, it was plain wrong. The few things it was able to figure out, like my age, are explicit on the FB page. And of course, it could determine my city, also explicit.
    Of course, I'm old school, and never use my real name on the internet. I'm blocking trackers and ads, and tossing cookies each session, so I don't know if FB's getting much that is useful on me.

  • I would be impressed if they didn't ask you to log into Facebook to mine your data. Anyone can mine data with full profile access. Let's see them mine that kind of data with a locked down profile. Whatever!
  • Some marketing company wants access to your FB info and you give it to them? That's undoubtedly the whole point of the digitalshadow.com website, to get their database updated with what FB has. And you fell for it!
  • I'm curious to see what it says about me, but not so curious I'll give them access to the entirety of my Facebook account. Do they say what they'll do with your data afterwards? They must be sucking everything they can out of your account, and I doubt they destroy it afterwards even if you revoke permissions for their app.

    This scam is a marketer's wet dream.

  • This automated system is a mess.

    I gave it access to my account temporarily, and afterwards revoked access.

    Turns out, it can't identify my face, nor can it identify my political leanings or my income with any certainty.

    It also couldn't figure out who my friends and enemies really were.

    All in all? It's a game, and it's not really doing any "data mining" that we should be worried about. ...

    Either that, or I'm a mischievous son-of-a-bitch that pads my timeline with fake information, and uses
    my kids face for m

  • Wow, it got just about everything wrong in analyzing my profile. Right off the bat it shows a picture of my girlfriend that it thinks is me. It shows pictures of people I have a high level of interacting with, one of whom is George Tekei who it says it doesn't recognize and I've only briefly met once at a political fundraiser. It also doesn't recognize Wendy Davis (running for governor of Texas) even though the picture they used isn't one I took, but an official campaign photo.

    The commonly used words ar

  • not some blog, which links itself all interesting links to itself?

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."