Like many other people around the web, I decided to download my Facebook profile information and see if there was anything weird or shocking about it. At first glance, everything seemed perfectly fine and normal. In fact, I even tweeted that I didn’t see anything abnormal or creepy about the data Facebook had on me.
I just downloaded my Facebook profile data and it’s literally everything I expected… am I doing it wrong?
— Jeff Weisbein (@jeffweisbein) April 12, 2018
Surely, I must be doing something “wrong” or rather, I thought, maybe everyone else is just being extremely paranoid, overdramatic and perhaps just looking for some page views. This post was actually originally going to be about how my Facebook profile data is exactly what I expected it would be. Nonetheless, I decided to take a second look at the profile data and started to dive into the various different pages of my profile, including scrolling through several years of timeline posts and cringing occasionally, finally making my way back to the page called ads.htm.
Scrolling through this page for the second time, everything looked normal to me under the category of Ad Topics, I could definitely see how Facebook could either infer or had gathered data over the years showing that these are in fact my interests. Then, I got to the following section: Advertisers who uploaded a contact list with your info. I started combing through the list again, everything looked fine until I got about 20 advertisers down and saw:
Инвестиционная группа Federation
“Well that looks Russian,” I thought to myself, so I Googled it and sure enough it is Russian. Thanks to Google Translate I was able to learn that the above advertiser is the Investment Group of the New Generation. According to the Investment Group’s site description, “The purpose of the investment group Federation Consulting is high incomes. We achieve it by providing customers with direct access to the US and European stock markets, informed investment decisions and access to quality analytics.”
I’m not sure how they got my contact information, which leads to me the question of: could they have only got it from one of my Facebook friends (if it wasn’t directly from me)? At this point I’m not sure and the past two days of hearings on Capitol Hill with Zuck didn’t answer this question (or many other questions). I’d love to find out. Again, I need to note this is the only really strange thing I found in my profile data from Facebook. The rest of the advertisers who uploaded a contact list with my information made sense to me.
If you have this Russian investment group listed in your Facebook advertiser data or if you have any insight into how it could end up there, please let me know. You can contact me via email, in the comments below, or tweet me.