Facebook tracking and storing unpublished posts and messages which the FB users have discarded on its servers

Facebook storing unpublished  posts and messages which FB users have discarded, on its servers

At any point of time while using Facebook, you would have typed something that you would have deleted or erased as you may have found it inappropriate or hurtful to someone before posting it. However, recent studies and researches have found out that these unpublished messages or posts are getting stored in Facebook servers.

Slate’s Jennifer Golbeck reports that these discarded thoughts don’t completely disappear — rather, Facebook uses a code that keeps track of every time you delete a would-be message and sends metadata about that message back to its own data bases.

Facebook calls these unposted thoughts “self-censorship.” Two Facebook users, Sauvik Das, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon and summer software engineer intern at Facebook, and Adam Kramer, a Facebook data scientist, have prepared an online article on self-censorship behavioral study. Their study is based on the data collected from 5 million English speaking Facebook users and how Facebook closely watches their unpublished posts and their views on them. Their research was published at the International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media.

Kramer and Das point out that Facebook is not storing data of these unpublished posts; its just maintaining records of all the data surrounding self-censored posts such as what time it was almost posted and whether it was to be posted on a friend’s page or on the user’s own page. They further stated that Facebook is trying to figure out the reasons as to why the user has decided against posting them as the company “loses value from the lack of content generation” every time a would-be post gets deleted.

“Consider, for example, the college student who wants to promote a social event for a special interest group, but does not for fear of spamming his other friends — some of who may, in fact, appreciate his efforts,” Kramer and Das write in explaining their interest in self-censoring behavior.

However, Slate’s Jennifer Golbeck is of the view that “Facebook’s desire to get users to post absolutely everything that comes into their heads is somewhat perverse because the company is essentially encouraging its users to lower the standards of what they share with their friends.”

“So Facebook considers your thoughtful discretion about what to post as bad, because it withholds value from Facebook and from other users,” she writes. “Facebook monitors those unposted thoughts to better understand them, in order to build a system that minimizes this deliberate behavior.”

After reading the above researches and studies, it has made me more cognizant about what I write or post on Facebook. However, this awareness has had a side effect on the way I think and want to express my views on Facebook. On second thoughts, am I censoring my creativity for an anonymous entity such as Facebook who doesn’t even bother about my existence. I rest my case.


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