Tech Guide

How to find out what Facebook knows about you

Key Points
  • Between information you've provided and your usage habits, Facebook knows a lot about you
  • CNBC will walk you through how to find out what Facebook knows about you
  • You'll see options to help limit what Facebook can discover about you along the way

I recently quit Facebook, but decided to return for one final task: To find out exactly what Facebook knows about me.

After some quick digging, I found out that Facebook knows:

  • Where I'm logged in and on what computer
  • I like smartphones and am an early tech adopter
  • I've clicked ads for laptop briefcases
  • I am most likely to interact with ads from Lyft and Nike over others
  • I'm liberal but prefer to read about Republican news stories
  • I'm married
  • My birthday is in March
  • I work for CNBC
  • I tend to access the social network from a tablet or smartphone.

I provided some of this information to Facebook, while other info Facebook gathered based on my interactions.

I'm going to deactivate my account again, but before I do I wanted to walk you through how to find out what Facebook knows about you, too.

Before we get started, know that you can click any image below to see a larger version. Let's go.

First, open your Facebook page and tap "Settings" then "Ads."

This is where you'll see a compilation of what Facebook knows about you, including your interests, advertisers you've interacted with (did you like a post? Open a link to a product Facebook showed you?) and more. Note that you'll be able to tweak the settings, too, so you can turn off interest-based ads, control who can see your interactions with ads, and more.

Facebook knows what you're most likely to interact with

Here, Facebook shows me the ads I might see in my news feed based on interests and apps I've logged into using Facebook. Lyft, Netflix, Indiegogo, Warby Parker, Zillow, Nike, the "Internet of Things" and others all appeared on my page.

Switching between the tabs, I found that Facebook also knows I like dachshunds (I own one, though I'm not sure how Facebook knows that), current events, chickens (weird), wool (incorrect) and merino (odd, since I recently bought a couple Merino sweaters but not through Facebook!)

It might know your political party

Facebook also shows the political party in thinks you're a member of. To find yours, tap the "lifestyle and culture" tab under your interests. Facebook thinks I'm interested in the Republican Party. That's incorrect, so I guess this is a win for me in terms of privacy.

It knows your habits

Facebook can provide your information to advertisers based on whether you're married or not, who you're employed by, your title, your education and more. It knows where I work, where I went to school and that I'm married, but mainly because I told it so when I setup my profile. Here, you can see that these were all toggled to "On."

Facebook's page shows that it knows my birthday is in March -- something I input so I can get the Happy Birthday posts on my birthday each year -- but also knows that I'm a frequent traveler, that I'm an engaged shopper and that I'm a tech early adopter.

All true. It even says my political party skews liberal, which is odd since that contradicts the earlier political party suggestion. It also knows, based on my device usage, that I'm most likely using 4G or Wi-Fi connections, prefer Google's Chrome web browser and mostly access the network from smartphones or tablets.

Facebook uses this information to "help advertisers reach people who are most likely to be interested in their products, services, and causes." Facebook says it compiles this information based on what I've provided and my Facebook activity.

It knows your location and the computer or phone you use to access Facebook

Facebook's "Security and Login" page shows where you're logged in and on what computer. It knows I'm currently using a Windows PC from Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, where CNBC headquarters is. It also shows where my previous devices have logged in, all the way back to a Motorola phone i used in Los Angeles in January. Together, Facebook knows I've been to Los Angeles, my hometown in New Jersey, Baltimore, Maryland, Philadelphia, Newark and my office. Kind of creepy.

It knows the ads you clicked based on all of these habits

Facebook knows the exact ads I clicked on a specific day, allowing it to take this data and better target new ads to you. I've clicked ads for iPhone cases, new bags and smartphones over the past year.

It knows what you did years ago

If you tap the "On This Day" option under "Explore" on the left tab of Facebook, it'll show you what you were up to years ago, even if you didn't post about it. Facebook compiles information from other users who have tagged you in locations, photos and more, and then shows you exactly what you were doing at a specific point in time. I hid most of this in my photo above for privacy, but I can see pictures of myself from high school that were posted by my friends years ago.

That's the information that Facebook shows it knows about you. If you find it a bit creepy, here's how to deactivate your Facebook account.