Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Who Does Facebook Think You Are?

Via ProPublica, you can find out who Facebook thinks you are. Unsurprisingly, Facebook collects a lot of data about its users, not just from what they post and share, but also from data purchased from other sources:
Facebook has a particularly comprehensive set of dossiers on its more than 2 billion members. Every time a Facebook member likes a post, tags a photo, updates their favorite movies in their profile, posts a comment about a politician, or changes their relationship status, Facebook logs it. When they browse the Web, Facebook collects information about pages they visit that contain Facebook sharing buttons. When they use Instagram or WhatsApp on their phone, which are both owned by Facebook, they contribute more data to Facebook’s dossier.

And in case that wasn’t enough, Facebook also buys data about its users’ mortgages, car ownership and shopping habits from some of the biggest commercial data brokers.

Facebook uses all this data to offer marketers a chance to target ads to increasingly specific groups of people. Indeed, we found Facebook offers advertisers more than 1,300 categories for ad targeting — everything from people whose property size is less than .26 acres to households with exactly seven credit cards.
To allow users to access this data easily, the people at ProPublica built a Chrome browser plug-in. You can use this plug-in to view the data and, if you're interested, share it with ProPublica and rate it for accuracy. They, in collaboration with Note to Self, hope to use these data to audit Facebook's personal dossiers.

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