What is data scraping and what can I do to protect my information on Facebook?
What is scraping?
Scraping is the automated collection of data (for example, using software to collect data) from a website or other interfaces and features built for people.
Scraping can be both authorized, such as web crawling by a search engine, or unauthorized, which involves automation to collect information in violation of our terms of service, and can affect any website or app. Unauthorized scraping is often done in a way that disguises the activity so that it blends in with ordinary usage.
What are we doing to prevent unauthorized scraping on our products?
Because scrapers often mimic the ways that people use our products legitimately, we’ll never be able to fully prevent all scraping without harming people’s ability to use our apps and websites the way they enjoy. But we have a dedicated External Data Misuse (EDM) team that works to make it harder and more costly for scrapers to gather data from our services or profit from it. This team:
- Consists of data scientists, analysts, and engineers focused on our efforts to detect, block, and deter scraping.
- Works to keep unauthorized scraped data from being shared online.
- Works with responsible hosting vendors to get data sets taken offline.
The EDM team makes unauthorized scraping harder and less attractive to scrapers by doing a number of things, including:
- Implementing technical mitigations against scraping:
- Rate limits cap the number of times anyone can interact with our products in a given amount of time.
- Data limits keep people from getting more data than they should need to use our products normally.
- Request blocking through pattern recognition. We look for patterns in activity and behavior that are typically associated with automated computer activity in order to block them automatically.
- Scraping enforcements and investigations:
- We actively investigate suspected scrapers to learn more about what they’re doing and use that information to make our systems stronger.
- We take actions against unauthorized scraping, such as enforcing against accounts associated with scraping and requesting that companies hosting scraped data take that information down.
What can I do to protect myself from unauthorized scraping?
Because scrapers often target data that is public, it’s important to make sure that your Facebook settings align with what you want to share publicly.
Learn more about what is public information on Facebook. Keep in mind, when you choose to share something as public (for example, when you select Public from the audience selector), it’s considered public information.
You can also contact Facebook to learn more about recent news reports regarding Facebook data.
Ways to manage your data settings on Facebook:
- Visit Privacy Checkup and walk through your privacy settings, so you can review your choices to help make sure that you’re sharing with who you want.
- Review the How People Find and Contact You section of your settings to control who can look you up using your email and phone number.
- You can also edit who can see your basic info on your Facebook profile and control who you share with when you post to Facebook.
- Follow the Facebook Privacy Matters page for regular updates from our privacy team on privacy initiatives at Facebook.
- Learn more about anti-scraping efforts at Facebook on the Privacy Matters page.
Keep in mind, you can visit Access Your Information to view categories of information about you in one place. You can also use the Download Your Information tool on Facebook. Learn more about how to control who can see what you share.
Other ways to protect your information:
- Check your information on the independent website Have I Been Pwned to help you review your possible exposure in other data incidents. Learn more about the Have I Been Pwned website and its founders.
- Learn more helpful tips about how to generally protect your information online on the Online Security page provided by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).