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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.

Back in 2009, Facebook faced backlash that spawned a protest campaign after it removed part of a clause that promised to remove the license to a user’s personal information for external advertising if that user removed content from the site. The social media site ultimately conceded and returned to the previous terms of use.

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  • The implication here is that there's some sort of nefarious purpose to this. But what would it be? What would Facebook want to "secretly" save our typos for… world domination?

    Actually, what's more likely: they're simply using this to provide autocomplete tagging assistance as you type the names of friends, companies, or pages.

  • Steve W.

    I know that there were people using drafts in Gmail to avoid raising flags by actually sending the emails. I could see an advantage to mining the data of the heated conversations before a person hits send.

    It could be used for good as well. Let's say we begin searching for teenageteenage users who mention "killing (myself)", and then report that information to authorities. While I disagree with the idea of reporting every possible issue to the authorities, it's hard to argue with the possibility of saving a child's life.