What Are Facebook Shadow Profiles?

We all know social media platforms store users’ data that is later used for targeted advertising or sold to third parties for different reasons. But have you heard of data collection of Facebook non-users? 

Yes, Facebook collects data of non-users called “shadow profiling”. This means that even if you have never used the platform, the website may have your information stored on its server. 

What is a Shadow Profile?

Such profiles are called shadow profiles because they’re not something the user themselves make. Instead, Facebook makes these profiles without the user’s consent or knowledge. For instance, if your friend makes a Facebook profile, Facebook offers them the service of importing contacts to quickly find registered friends on the platform.

If your friend imports the contacts on Facebook, the platform can use those details of unsigned people. Facebook doesn’t leave the chance to store free data. So, it will create shadow profiles of users who haven’t signed up. 

How Do We Know Facebook Makes Shadow Profiles?

Back in 2018, Mark Zuckerberg revealed in a congressional hearing that Facebook collects data of people who aren’t its users. However, Facebook doesn’t refer to this data storage as “shadow profiling”. 

In simple words, it doesn’t matter if you’re a user or not; Facebook has information on you that you didn’t explicitly consent to. But why does Facebook collect all this data? The official answers differ. 

See also  10 Ways to Grow an Organic Instagram Presence

Facebook provides features like “people you may know” to help new users build new connections quickly as soon as they sign up. 

How Can You Protect Yourself from Shadow Profiling?

Unless you are willing to become an off-grid hermit, there isn’t any way that allows you to hide your data from the internet. This points to the sad fact that we can’t do anything about technology ripping our data into shreds. 

Facebook stores information and may even sell it to third parties like data brokers. So, if you have your phone number or other personal info on such platforms, you should get in touch with them to remove it. If you do not have the time to manually opt out, you can choose a data removal company like Incogni. This eliminates the need for you to manually spend hundreds of hours hunting down platforms to have your data removed. 

Social media platforms utilize smart algorithms, AI (like facial recognition to store users’ photos with names), and massive data centers with beyond-belief computing powers that can use little (harmless) information about you and others. 

This allows them to gain shocking insights into who the person is, trends of how they behave, what they like, and how social platforms can influence them. 


The internet is progressing quickly with innovations and technological integrations every day. We all should be aware of reasonable privacy expectations. Users can use their representative lawmakers to access pro-privacy laws to protect themselves.