How many times have you started to compose a message on Facebook, only, for whatever reason, to delete the content before you post? Many of us have done that action too many times to count. The reasons vary—maybe you were asking a question but then found out the answer mid-sentence, maybe you were too quick to go on the defensive or offensive, maybe you misspelled a word. Whatever the case, you highlighted and backspaced and deleted and edited and rewrote until satisfied.
“Unfortunately, the code in your browser that powers Facebook still knows what you typed—even if you decide not to publish it. It turns out that the things you explicitly choose not to share aren’t entirely private,” reported Jennifer Golbeck of Slate.com (who was a technical witness in a patent lawsuit against Facebook as of Feb. 27, 2014).
Code from Facebook is sent to your browser in order to collect all of the “self-censorship” (the label for all of the half-written data) posts. The data is then stored and analyzed by Facebook.
When using Google mail, for example, the same process happens. Your emails are saved as you type so a long email is not wasted due to a failure.
“Facebook is using essentially the same technology here. The difference is that Google is saving your messages to help you. Facebook users don’t expect their unposted thoughts to be collected, nor do they benefit from it,” reported Golbeck.
At the end of the day, every Facebook user clicked “I agree” to the terms and conditions, so Facebook can capture anything you do on their platform. However, it stands to reason that some will think twice before beginning a rant on an ex-lover’s wall.