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.

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