You know Facebook is big. Really big. Now, here’s some numbers to add perspective to the amount of data they process and store.
- 500+ terabytes of new data is added every single day.
- Users click the ‘Like’ button 2,700,000,000 times per day.
- More than 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day.
Think about all the things you feed into Facebook for a moment and what the implications of that data are. If, over a period of time, you’ve consistently posted something early in the morning – say, 7:30am – and over the same period of time, you never had any posts or interactions after 11:30pm, Facebook knows exactly when you sleep. If you check-in using Facebook Places, over a period of time, Facebook knows your favorite bars, restaurants, stores, and brands. If you’ve added Interests to your Timeline, Facebook can combine those keywords with status updates, check-ins, photo captions, and Likes on third-party sites to start building a complete picture of your life.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Facebook, if it wanted, could extract all status updates containing the words “Barack Obama” and “Mitt Romney”, add some basic sentiment analysis and have a very high likelihood of predicting the outcome of the election in November.
And where does all this data go? Facebook’s U.S. data centers are in North Carolina, Virginia, Oregon, and California. There’s also one in Sweden. Curious what these look like? GigaOm has a great behind the scenes tour at the Oregon data center.
Big data is more than just having a lot of information. Facebook’s VP of Engineering explains the distinction: ”Big data really is about having insights and making an impact on your business. If you aren’t taking advantage of the data you’re collecting, then you just have a pile of data, you don’t have big data.”
With this much personal data about all of us, the question that comes up more than any other: how does Facebook protect our privacy internally? Parikh told TechCrunch they have a zero-tolerance policy for employees prying into user data when they don’t have a legitimate reason. They’ve built extensive logs to see what employees access, and the threat of being fired for abuse of this power keeps it cut and dry.
So, we’re curious what you think. Do you trust Facebook (and other social networking sites) with this much data about you? Let us know in the comments.
[Image Credit: TechCrunch]