Can your ISP read what you send over Facebook?

Your Internet service provider knows an awful lot about you. But when you're on Facebook, your ISP is the least of your privacy worries.

Maeve asked "Can your ISP read conversations that you have with people over Facebook?" 

Every Internet communication from your home goes through your Internet Service Provider (ISP). It knows your IP address (actually your router's IP address), it knows your physical address, and it literally does the job of connecting one to the other.

To use a term we've all heard a lot recently, they have your metadata.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to]

Unless you take precautions (discussed below), your ISP knows when you're on Facebook. But unless you 'friend' your ISP, it can't see what you're doing there.

If you log onto Facebook and check your browser's URL field, you'll note that it starts with https. That s tells you that it's using SSL, and that your data is encrypted between your PC and Facebook's server.

Not that SSL is all that secure. The Heartbleed bug has made us all aware that SSL isn't perfect. But I seriously doubt that your ISP will use illegal hacking techniques to read your Facebook posts. That sort of behavior is generally found only among criminals and governments.

But there's something else you should consider: We're talking about Facebook. You pay your ISP for a service. Advertisers pay Facebook to tell them all about you. If you're putting sensitive information up on Facebook, your ISP's access to that information is the least of your worries.

If you're using Facebook, or a similar service, you need to follow some privacy tips to protect yourself.

And if you really don't want your ISP to know what you're up to, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) like CyberGhost. Or use a secure browser like the Tor Browser.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitysocial networks

More about Facebook

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Lincoln Spector

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place