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.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why is 18 the age of adulthood if the brain can take 30 years to mature?

Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.

Mind & Brain
  • Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
  • Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
  • The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
Keep reading Show less

Apparently even NASA is wrong about which planet is closest to Earth

Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.

Strange Maps
  • Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
  • Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
  • Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
Keep reading Show less

Mini-brains attach to spinal cord and twitch muscles

A new method of growing mini-brains produces some startling results.

(Lancaster, et al)
Surprising Science
  • Researchers find a new and inexpensive way to keep organoids growing for a year.
  • Axons from the study's organoids attached themselves to embryonic mouse spinal cord cells.
  • The mini-brains took control of muscles connected to the spinal cords.
Keep reading Show less