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Here’s a Fun Way to Check Your Horrifying Facebook Privacy

Rob Walker
Tech Columnist
Yahoo Tech

I’m pretty scrupulous about keeping my Facebook activity as un-public as the service will let me, but I still sometimes wonder what I might be letting slip into the wider world by mistake. And while Facebook gives you an option to “see what the public sees,” I just accidentally found a better alternative.

DigitalShadow.com is an online promotional stunt for a video game called Watch Dogs. In practice, it dips into your Facebook profile and illustrates, in a snappy set of charts and information graphics, how much of your life is exposed on that social network.

As a bonus, for reasons that presumably have something to do with the game (which doesn’t really interest me), all the information is framed in amusingly alarmist tones. So it really sinks in!

Of course you have to log in via Facebook. After a pause, you receive the app’s assessment.

The top graphic is headlined “We Know Who You Are” and includes pictures you’ve uploaded. (I’ve blotted out some of my info, obviously.)

Subsequent info-chunks inform you when you most often use Facebook, and various insights about your friends. Some are categorized as “Stalkers,” for instance: frequent interactors who “can be mined for further information about you.” Or “Scapegoats”: people you hardly interact with at all — you’ll “sacrifice them for self-preservation,” according to the presentation’s goofily scary language.

The app’s version includes the relevant friends’ profile pictures, but of course I’ve edited those away here, since I’m not really interested in alienating my Stalkers and Scapegoats.

If, like me, you’re interested in confirming what you’re not sharing, you’ll be pleased to see where Digital Shadow comes up short. The service informed this AdFreak writer that “You display a bleak outlook that can be manipulated for future gain.” In my case, it was flummoxed.


Whatever all this might have to do with the game that’s being promoted, it’s a useful and fun little exercise, and it ends on a sobering if dystopian note:

“Your data casts a digital shadow that grows with every online interaction and can be tracked, monitored and used against you. Every photo. Every email. Every purchase. Everything you’ve ever done in the digital world can follow you into the real world. Your actions leave you exposed.”

Yeah, thanks for the distinctly unfriendly reminder!

Actually, the app reiterates its own point at the very end: “Invite your friends,” it suggests.

Um, no.

See how much personal info your Facebook is leaking here. You can follow Yahoo Tech’s Facebook page here

Write to me at rwalkeryn@yahoo.com or find me on Twitter, @notrobwalker. RSS lover? Paste this URL into your reader of choice: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/author/rob-walker/rss.