How Facebook Lies About its Default Privacy Settings

Executive Summary

  • Facebook’s business model is based upon surveilling users to serve them ads. To maximize their revenue, they set privacy defaults that are bad for users.
  • We cover how Facebook was able to track users.


As Facebook faces a DOJ lawsuit for monopolistic behavior, what will happen is Facebook’s business model will be highlighted to more of a degree than before. What often goes undiscussed is how Facebook has rigged its default privacy settings to maximize its ability to surveil its users.

Our References for This Article

If you want to see our references for this article and other related Brightwork articles, see this link.

Facebook’s Default Privacy Settings

Facebook presents one story on privacy settings to those that would regulate Facebook, and this is a false presentation covered in the following quotation.

While Facebook chairman and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was boasting to Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday about how much his network is doing to protect privacy for its billions of users, I set up a new account to test what he was saying.

I wish the result had come as a surprise.

Instead, here’s everything that was public or turned on by default: My friends list. My profile, which could be indexed by search engines. I could be tagged in any post, even if I hadn’t reviewed it first. The site would suggest that my friends tag me in images. Ad targeting would let Facebook sell marketers the ability to find me based on my relationship status, employer, job title, education and interests. (emphasis added) And Facebook would use my app and browser activity to decide which ads to show me.

Those were just a few of the settings I allowed automatically by clicking “Create Account.” It could have been a lot worse, too: Instead of “public,” many defaults, such as who could see future posts or who could see posts I’m tagged in, were set to “friends.” – The Washtington Post

This means that Facebook’s default settings are essentially set to MAXIMALLY INVADE YOUR PRIVACY and CREATE A PERMANENT PROFILE THAT CAN BE MONETIZED. Yet, when Facebook speaks, it discusses how much it protects the privacy of its users.

Facebook receives our Golden Pinocchio Award for how it lied to advertisers. 


And here is a second question that is beyond what the individual privacy settings in Facebook are. And it is a question that is seldom asked.

Given that Facebook is lying all the time and has disregarded user privacy settings in the past, such as the Do Not Track setting in browsers, how does anyone know that Facebook respects any of the privacy settings that users restrict? Google, which follows a nearly identical business model to Facebook, has already been caught tracking users when users had disabled location services.

Often, a smartphone will busily send location data even though the user has turned it off. As it turns out, your location data is probably still being collected by Google, which is obviously a grave concern. Google has been caught trying to track users even though they thought they had turned off their location services. – Entrepreneur

And this has led to a lawsuit.

Napoleon Patacsil filed a lawsuit against the company on the basis that “Google expressly represented to users of its operating system and apps that the activation of certain settings will prevent the tracking of users’ geolocation,” even though “That representation was false.” We’ll see how that will end because Mr. Patacsil seeks that his lawsuit represents all Google mobile users regardless of the OS they use. – Turtler

Google and Facebook have a public persona, where they claim they respect privacy. However, their actions indicate they will deceive users to obtain their data. The more data Google and Facebook obtain about their users, the more they can monetize that data. Thus both companies can say that they have a fiduciary duty to violate their privacy (and lying to users is a big part of getting users to trust them), allowing them to maximize shareholder value.