Facebook is watching you: How other companies are tracking you through the social media site

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – There is no escaping Facebook.

Facebook is used to stay connected and to tell the world about things that are important to you. However, it’s not just your friends keeping track. Facebook and other companies are following your every click.

Kate Calabrese used the social media site constantly.

“Pretty much anything I’ve ever done is on here,” she said.

Calabrese looked at a snapshot of herself on Facebook, one that was in the form of a picture. She told NEWS10 ABC she uses Facebook everywhere and for everything. Especially, to play her favorite game Candy Crush.

“You can do something on your free time, you do this, you’re on your phone — always on the phone – on Facebook,” she explained.

She also does a lot of her shopping through Facebook.

“Checking out for a store, you can log in through Facebook,” she told NEWS10.

Through Facebook, Calabrese’s life is pretty much an open book.

“I don’t really have a filter when it comes to that kind of stuff,” she added.

Her likes and dislikes posted for her friends and for Facebook. The company hoards all those bits and pieces of data. What Calabrese likes, what interests her, and what she’s likely to purchase.

All that information provides a treasure trove of information about a user to other companies. Reg Harnish is a cyber security expert and the CEO of Greycastle Security.

“It’s very creepy,” he said. “They’re doing nothing more than collecting your shopping habits. Things you like; things you dislike.”

Every time Calabrese signs onto another website through Facebook, she’s letting another site track her.

“All these things become valuable to people who want to sell you stuff,” Harnish said.

“I actually have bought things from seeing an ad before,” Calabrese added. “It’s so perfect for me.”

Those apps she downloads and installs can also be troubling.

“Who knows what these websites could be doing with you information,” Harnish said. “The app, when you download it, said, ‘Listen, I’m going to track your movement, read your emails, texts.’”

Calabrese admits she usually gives the apps full access without a second thought.

“Do we really read them before we agree,” she said. “No. We just say agree.”

NEWS10 showed Calabrese a unique snapshot of her life on Facebook. One found on the settings page under ad preferences.

The list showed what Facebook was keeping track of based on things Calabrese has liked, websites she’s visited, and apps she’s downloaded. That list of words is what Facebook uses to target specific ads for her.

“Oh wow,” she exclaimed.

Calabrese looked shocked to see even the small details about her life she had forgotten. Facebook made a note of it and tucked it away under ad preferences.

“Cheerleading. I used to cheer in high school,” she said. “These will be all deleted by the time you guys leave.”

Harnish reminding users that even though Facebook is free, using the social media site comes at a cost.

“They’re making a lot of money,” he said. “You don’t pay for Facebook. I don’t pay for it. How do you think they pay the bills? It’s selling your information.”


1. Review and edit Apps you have installed.
Go to settings and under apps check out which apps have access to certain account information. You can uncheck certain items or get rid of an app by removing it.

2. Turning off Apps completely
To do this, under Settings choose apps. Then click edit on: Apps, Websites and Plugins and click the Disable Feature on bottom left hand corner. If you choose to do this, you will not be able to install any apps or third party sites that use Facebook.

3. Don’t use Facebook to login into other sites.
If you “login with Facebook,” you’re letting that company track you whether it’s shopping or subscribing to a site.

4. Change ad preferences
Under settings, click ads. You can turn off the ad preferences feature by editing the first question and choosing No, or you can also edit your ad preferences by editing the last section and select what you want removed individually.

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