Why What Facebook Knows About You Could Matter Offline

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With guest host Jane Clayson

The investigative team at ProPublica wants you to know what Facebook knows about you. It’s more than you can imagine.

A man walks past a mural in an office on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif. (Jeff Chiu/AP)
A man walks past a mural in an office on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, California. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

We share a lot on Facebook — who our friends are, what parties we’re going to, which bands and movies and TV shows we like. And Facebook is voraciously collecting it all and using it to predict what you and your "friends" might want to buy. They’re selling it, too — directly to advertisers. ProPublica has a deep dive into the sticky, creepy details. This hour, On Point: Big data, and what Facebook knows about you. — Jane Clayson


Julia Angwin, senior investigative reporter at ProPublica. Author of the book "Dragnet Nation." (@JuliaAngwin)

Askhan Soltani, independent researcher and consultant in privacy security and behavioral economics. Former chief technologist at the Federal Trade Commission, where he served in the division of privacy and identity protection. (@ashk4n)

Cathy O'Neil, data scientist, former Wall Street quant and author of the new book, "Weapons of Math Destruction." (@mathbabedotorg)

From The Reading List

ProPublica: What Facebook Knows About You — "Facebook has a particularly comprehensive set of dossiers on its more than 2 billion members. Every time a Facebook member likes a post, tags a photo, updates their favorite movies in their profile, posts a comment about a politician, or changes their relationship status, Facebook logs it. When they browse the Web, Facebook collects information about pages they visit that contain Facebook sharing buttons. When they use Instagram or WhatsApp on their phone, which are both owned by Facebook, they contribute more data to Facebook’s dossier."

NPR News: 'Weapons Of Math Destruction' Outlines Dangers Of Relying On Data Analytics — "We are in a time of big data. In recent years, NPR's done stories about how data analytics are being used to help political campaigns, rally supporters, compare the cost of similar surgeries in different cities, track public buses in real time and even maybe identify police officers at risk of committing misconduct. But the question is are we putting too much faith in big data?"

The Wall Street Journal: A Primer on the Facebook Measurement Wars — "Facebook has been taking heat over the revelation that for two years it miscalculated a key metric, overestimating by as much as 80% the average time people spent watching video on its platform. Some in the ad world say the controversy highlights why Facebook and other big digital platforms shouldn’t be 'grading their own homework,' but should instead be submitting to measurement by independent, third-party tracking companies."

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This program aired on October 19, 2016.


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