Facebook knows pretty much everything about you — and that includes when you type out posts but decide not to hit “enter.”
But before you freak out too much, know that Facebook isn’t saving the text of these would-be posts (at least not yet). For now, Facebook is merely tracking more general trends related to these unpublished thoughts — or, as Facebook calls it, “self-censorship.”
Sauvik Das, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon and summer software engineer intern at Facebook, and Adam Kramer, a Facebook data scientist, shared insights into how the social network monitors these posts in a recent paper, Slate reports. Their study, available in full online, collects data from 5 million English-speaking Facebook users, focusing on status updates, posts on other people’s timelines, and comments on posts. Anything you type — even if you don’t hit “post” — becomes metadata that gets sent back to Facebook.
This all sounds pretty Big Brother-y, but a Facebook rep told Slate that collecting this information falls safely under the company’s Data Use Policy. They’re probably more concerned with why you end up ditching certain posts, which could help Facebook determine how to minimize self-censorship in the future.
Chances are, Facebook doesn’t really care what you almost chose to post on your ex-boyfriend’s wall one drunken night before deciding you really didn’t want him to read it. Unless, of course, your ex-boyfriend works at Facebook.