According to a tech consultant, Facebook collects all writing that is entered into a text box and sends it to its servers regardless of whether a user chooses to publish it.
In a post published on his blog, Príomh Ó hÚigínn explains that Facebook sends an HTML post request containing the text a user writes. He observed this network traffic using Firefox Devtools.
“This is outright Orwellian, and inconvenient,” he said. “Since I am now aware of this, I am more cautious about what I enter into the text area.”
hÚigínn is not the only researcher to study Facebook’s collection of aborted posts.
In December 2013, Sauvik Das, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon and summer software engineer intern at Facebook, and Adam Kramer, a Facebook data scientist, published a study on what Facebook calls “self-censorship” behavior. The two researchers revealed in their study that the social media site sends text to a user’s browser, which sends back metadata whenever a user types into a text box.
At the time, the researchers concluded that Facebook received information indicating only that a user had self-censored and not the actual text that they had typed. However, hÚigínn’s research reveals that the exact text is also captured and sent to the social media site’s servers.
It is unclear whether Facebook’s Data Policy specifies this type of data collection.
“We collect the content and other information you provide when you use our Services, including when you sign up for an account, create or share, and message or communicate with others,” the policy reads.
“This can include information in or about the content you provide, such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created.”
Facebook explains that it also collects information about how users interact with its ‘Services,’ such as the types of content they view or engage with or the frequency and duration of their activities.