Here’s a question: On your Facebook profile, you do perhaps state which area, town or country you currently live in? … How about which area, town or country you originally came from? – There’s no need to physically answer these questions, per-se.
If you do either of the above, though, (and for the record, the chances are most of you do) – the likelihood is that you may be a part of Facebook’s global migration-tracking program, without even knowing it.
The latest revelation arrives via a report published by The Atlantic Cities, for which reporter Emily Badger oulines the company’s use of this location data.
“Between those two data points – spread across the millions of its 1 billion users who volunteer this information – Facebook can paint a picture of where large population shifts take place, which cities seem to attract the most people, and what kinds of communities are losing them,” Badger highlights.
Providing an instance where the data could prove useful to the company, she writes:
“For instance, let’s say 1,000,000 people list ‘Boston’ as their hometown on Facebook. Out of these individuals, 300,000 list ‘Boston’ as their current city, and no other city has more individuals listing Boston as their hometown… it follows that Boston is the most likely current city for people who grew up in Boston. People who grew up in Boston still live there with a 30% probability.”
“This is quite a common occurrence – for many cities, people are most likely to stay where they grew up,” Badger says, adding that the program specifically focuses on tracking migration for profiles “for which the most likely current city is different from the hometown.”
The report arrives as just the latest in a string of revelations regarding the ways in which the data we – ourselves – own, and most often give-up with little fight to these massive technology companies, may be being used behind closed doors.
It’s certainly an interesting read, if you have the time.