Facebook knows more about you than most friends do. Between what you post, like and share, the Facebook algorithm has your life and interests in a “screen shot.”
As Tom Hale with IFL Science reports:
Facebook has managed to forge a $367 billion empire by providing a completely free service. That’s because information is more valuable than ever – and they have a lot of it. Although most of the reaping of data from our Internet activity is “strictly business”, sometimes it can seem downright creepy.
Following Facebook’s revamp of their Ad Preferences feature, it’s now easier than ever to see exactly what they know and how it’s being used to sell you stuff. Using this feature, you can even see the 98 data points about your personal life that Facebook uses to target you with adverts.
After logging into Facebook, all you need to do is go to facebook.com/ads/preferences to see the list of media outlets, artists, places, subjects, and so on that Facebook predicts you might like based on your current interests. You’ll also be able to check out the list of advertisers who have your contact details and those whose website or app you’ve already gone on through Facebook.
It even knows your political leaning if you live in the US, the New York Times reported this week. Go on to the “Lifestyle and Culture” tab under the “Interests” header. If you find the box called “US Politics”, it will then describe you either as liberal, moderate, or conservative.
This is all vital information for companies wanting to advertise on Facebook. It allows them to identify who they want to reach and trends within that audience. For example, if you want to advertise your product, Facebook can tell you the exact demographic that buy similar products and deliver your ad straight to them. This audience data can range from mundane information, like age and gender, to the insanely specific – like if they buy painkiller medication or if they tend to be an early adopter of technology.
You can delete any of these preferences, which are automatically ascribed to you, but bear in mind it won’t result in less adverts.
As the Washington Post reports, these are the 98 data points that Facebook knows about you:
Field of study
Income and net worth
Home ownership and type
Square footage of home
Year home was built
Users who have an anniversary within 30 days
Users who are away from family or hometown
Users who are friends with someone who has an anniversary, is newly married or engaged, recently moved, or has an upcoming birthday
Users in long-distance relationships
Users in new relationships
Users who have new jobs
Users who are newly engaged
Users who are newly married
Users who have recently moved
Users who have birthdays soon
Mothers, divided by “type” (soccer, trendy, etc.)
Users who are likely to engage in politics
Conservatives and liberals
Users who own motorcycles
Users who plan to buy a car (and what kind/brand of car, and how soon)
Users who bought auto parts or accessories recently
Users who are likely to need auto parts or services
Style and brand of car you drive
Year car was bought
Age of car
How much money user is likely to spend on next car
Where user is likely to buy next car
What are your thoughts on Facebook’s data collecting and categorization of all of us? Is this the natural progression of human behavior and socialization, or is it an intrusion of our privacy.