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Blog posts written on Thursday April 2018

Posted Thursday Thursday, April 12, 2018 by Administrator

Zuckerberg to US Senate “Senator we run ads”. Ah: the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth the American way!


Senate And Zuckerberg


Zuckerberg smirks after answering “How do you sustain a business model in which users do not pay for your services?”

Zuckerberg to US Senate “Senator we run ads”

The Senator missed the chance to ask what was the basis of the value of the ads, and more importantly did this value rely on them being targeted in a highly specific manner?


So how is this relevant to someone owning or running an Agency?

So how much can Facebook know about your company (that you probably dont want them to know)?

For example for a typical Temp Agency: can Facebook have a reasonably complete list of your current and past workers, their names, email addresses and  phone numbers. Oh and commercially sensitve information like where and when they worked (your customers and their addresses)?


This article will explain how your prized company data is for sale on the internet and it’s going to be very easy to understand.

There are three aphorisms that apply to the current Cambridge Analytica and Facebook saga.

  • Knowledge is power.
  • If the service is free then you are the product.
  • It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Mark Zuckerberg has an acknowledged; some would say impressive and admirable record of pushing the boundaries on the use of freely supplied personal data to generate substantial wealth. Up till now those boundaries have been virtually non-existent.

Would this worry you if your employee list or customer list were legally for sale?

Well it is and as we will shortly see, it’s not limited to Facebook. All social media apps such as Facebook messenger, WhatsApp (also owned by Mr Zuckerberg), or competitors like WeChat, Line, Viber, KakaoTalk etc. can distil these lists.

How is this possible? As a temping agency, your employee list is basically your asset list. It needs to be protected.. Ok so your IT guys have assured you that your company data is on a secure server behind a firewall, password protected etc. They are not lying. Your company may not have been hacked (in the traditional sense). Zuckerberg et al (and you can pay to be Mark’s friend) still have these lists and they are easily and legally purchased on the internet.


So how do these lists become available?

Let’s take two simple and personal examples.

The other day I was looking for a new event location. I entered the details on my phone and Google very helpfully came up with a map. The Android app asked me if I would turn on location access to guide me there. I did and it did, straight to the (enjoyable) event. The kicker is the next day I was having a meal out and Google popped up and asked me to rate the “Loch Fyne Seafood & Grill” restaurant. So Google knows where by name (and when) I visit, my name, my mobile number and my email. This could equally be where someone works on temping assignments. So in that case they have a list of the customers where that person worked as well. It’s simple to distinguish or filter out the “eight hour” shifts from the coffee shop / restaurant visits, going to the shops or visiting friends at (private) addresses, probably one line of code: (WHERE Location.PropertyType = “Hospital or “Care Home” or PCT” and LengthOfStay more than 4 hrs).

Example 2. The other day I was driving to another event. I was stopped at a traffic light, in “Park”, engine off and I put my finger on the menu of my iPhone. The phone “said” you will not receive alerts whist driving. Clever when you think about it, but easy if I am moving a 50mph along a road then the phone can figure that out. Except in this case I did not turn on location services, they are on by default.

So if someone has an Android or an iPhone, then where and when someone works is “freely” available to any app they have installed. Add this to the other data about the phone owner “et voila! As the French would say” Name, Address, email (security checks) address, correct name, employment history.

If you use Facebook, Facebook messenger or WhatsApp to message your staff, then Mark Z knows a list of your staff without actually reading the messages. (There was not any in the two examples here).  He already has an email, phone number, proper name etc. assuming he can put two and two together.

Facebook is actually more powerful than a simple list of your employees, addresses, phone numbers. By simply repeating the analysis over time, they can find those people that move jobs more often. Those people that like cats, those that like dogs, gardening, music, knitting etc..


So is liking cats and dogs important?

It’s simple to have an advert with an apparently irrelevant picture of a cat, dog, flower, band, ball of wool etc. and an appropriate phrase: “Want more time for your cat, dog, gardening, apply to xyz agency”. How much more likely is it that the targeted person will follow the link in the ad when it contains something about their favourite hobby or pet? They have just had their favourite interest or love spot massaged. How much more likely is the subsequent approach going to be successful?

So in your workers “regularly updated” Facebook privacy setting, how important is the fact that they like cats? That’s not important? Just Google “cambridge analytica personality test” because it goes much deeper than that.

Actually all this is not news. What is current news is that Politicians just have woken up to the fact that using these actually very simple tools for direct news, fake news and adverts, nerds in offices have more power and control than the politicians themselves.

What may also be news to you is that your company data is equally at others fingertips and for sale. What may also be news is how simple this is in a connected society.


Almost the bottom line

This is why Facebook encourages everyone to download the Facebook app on to their mobile phone. It is a mine of personal information. That is mine as in treasure trove, not mine as in personal possession.


The bottom list is taken from the Google play store Facebook App permissions list. Some like making the phone vibrate are innocuous, others... not so much!

Links you might also find interesting:


Facebook says that, even if I limit access to my interests, it will still show me ads based on the following (including location)

UK Businessinsider: how to control your data on facebook like mark zuckerberg says you can

What is the secret behind mining this data also known as  "traffic_analysis"


The Facebook app demands access to and will mine your phone for data regarding:


Device & app history
    retrieve running apps
    find accounts on the device
    add or remove accounts
    read your own contact card
    read calendar events plus confidential information
    add or modify calendar events and send email to guests without owners' knowledge
    read your contacts
    modify your contacts
    approximate location (network-based)
    precise location (GPS and network-based)
    read your text messages (SMS or MMS)
    read phone status and identity
Photos / Media / Files
    read the contents of your USB storage
    modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
    take pictures and videos
    record audio
Wi-Fi connection information
    view Wi-Fi connections
Device ID & call information
    directly call phone numbers
    read call log
    write call log
    precise location (GPS and network-based)
Photos / Media / Files
    download files without notification
    receive data from Internet
    adjust your wallpaper size
    view network connections
    create accounts and set passwords
    read battery statistics
    pair with Bluetooth devices
    access Bluetooth settings
    send sticky broadcast
    change network connectivity
    connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
    full network access
    change your audio settings
    read sync settings
    run at startup
    draw over other apps
    control vibration
    prevent device from sleeping
    modify system settings
    toggle sync on and off
    install shortcuts
    read Google service configuration
    expand/collapse status bar
    reorder running apps
    set wallpaper
    reorder running apps


Ian Pettman is the managing director of Added value application which provides staff booking software which does not use social media for sending messages or appointments.


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