Secret menu that reveals what Instagram and Facebook REALLY know about you and how to access it
You probably already know that social networks rely on collecting vast amounts of information about their users for advertisers.
But you probably didn’t know that you can access hidden menus that reveal exactly what some apps know about you.
In the Instagram app, for example, you can see everything Meta, the company that owns Instagram, Facebook, and the new limited-character app Threads, has on you.
To access the menu where your personal information is hidden, you will need to go to Settings and Privacy in the application, then to the Account Center, where you will see your profiles on both Facebook and Instagram.
Then go to Account Settings, then Ads Preferences, then Ads Themes, where you’ll see a short list of themes that interest you. Select View and manage themes and you’ll see your full list.
You will need to access a menu buried in the settings menu (Instagram)
There is a very large list of interests (Instagram)
If you’ve used Facebook and Instagram for a while, this list will tend to be huge: In our tests, the menu had around 500 interests, from Guns N’ Roses to fruit and vegetable juices.
With each entry on your list, you can simply tap on it and say whether you want to see more or fewer ads like this one.
There’s also a separate ‘Ad Settings’ menu where you can adjust settings about which categories are used to communicate with you (although you’ll need to enter your Facebook password to adjust some of these).
Instagram boasts that advertisers can “decide who is most important to their business and then reach them with adjustable targeting options.”
Meta’s $116.61 billion in 2022 revenue was driven by ad sales on its social media platforms Facebook and Instagram.
Paul Bischoff, security and privacy advocate at Comparitech, tells DailyMail.com: ‘Instagram and Threads, like most other social networks, collect data about you in three ways.
‘First is the information you voluntarily provide, such as the information you use to sign up for the account, your profile details, and your posts.
Then there is data collected in the background as you use a service, such as your IP address and location, which posts and features you interact with, when and how long you use it, your language, and your device details.
‘Lastly, social networks may obtain information from third parties, such as data brokers and public records, and tracking cookies. When you use Facebook or Instagram, they place a tracking cookie on your device.
These cookies can be used to track which websites you visit and with which you interact.
If you see a Facebook Like or Share button or a Facebook comment section on a third-party website, for example, those elements are likely tracking you on behalf of Facebook.
“They can see the advertising ID in the tracking cookie and log their visit with Facebook.”
It added: ‘Information from all these sources is combined to create profiles about users. These profiles do not contain directly identifying information such as your name or contact information, but instead assign you a unique advertising ID.
‘Although the profile does not contain such identifying information, the information it contains may be so specific as to pertain only to a single user. Third-party advertisers can target all user profiles in a certain location or are interested in a specific topic, for example.’