Tracking Facebook 'Likes' for Better Target Ads

After years of logging your likes and shares, Facebook is about to use them to create better targeted ads.

Facebook is going to start using all those likes you've logged over the years to create a more personalized ad experience in your newsfeed. So, what does this mean for users?

In a Facebook post, Stephen Deadman, global deputy chief privacy officer, wrote about the changes, but it doesn't sound like he's so much addressing users, so much as assuring marketers. One sentence reads:

“We sometimes hear from people that the ads they see aren't as useful or relevant to them as they could be.”

For users who would prefer to not have personalized ads, Facebook has a privacy setting that allows users to opt out. If selected, ads within a user's newsfeed will not be based on likes and shares, but user activity will continue to be logged. Even when a page loads, what a user does not like and share will be taken into account when building the personal profile of you.

Rainey Reitman, activism director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, takes issue with this method. She said in an interview with Technology Review:

“Promising not to use information is not the same as promising to actually delete the data. The ‘like’ data is especially problematic. Most people probably don’t even realize that whenever they load a page with a ‘like’ button on it, Facebook gets a little information on them.” 

The social site is a treasure trove of information into the inner workings of you. Everything you do online is a data point that is another piece of who you are and what you want. All this information culminates into an online profile, which can be problematic when the algorithm gets something wrong. Not to mention, playing with your personal data is creepy.

A better design, Reitman suggests, would be if Facebook honored a user's preference not to be tracked, which is a method of transmitting a message stating your preference to not have your information logged. It's an elegant solution that allows users to communicate their preferences towards a site. Another suggestion Reitman has is if Facebook only took information when a like button was pressed.

There are sites out there that manage to survive and thrive in this Internet economy without tracking their users; search engine DuckDuckGo has managed to do it.


Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Photo credit:  KAREN BLEIER / Getty Staff

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less

Understand your own mind and goals via bullet journaling

Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.

  • Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
  • The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
  • One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
Keep reading Show less