Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

Most Facebook users aren't aware of the social network's targeted ad practices

Facebook tightens ad rules in countries going to polls, but undecided on Israel Facebook yet to decide which political advertising rules it will roll out in Australia for the federal election
Jeannette Daniel | 19 January, 2019, 06:26

In a study of 963 Facebook users, approximately 74 percent of them didn't know Facebook keeps a record of their interests for brands to show them targeted advertisements.

The scrutiny of Facebook's collection and use of consumer data in recent years has prompted the tech giant to repeatedly defend its efforts around transparency and privacy.

According to Reuters, in December of 2018, researchers working for a U.S. Senate committee, concluded that the Russian government's Internet Research Agency used social media ads and regular posts on inauthentic accounts to promote then presidential candidate Donald Trump to millions of Americans. A small majority-51%-said they were uncomfortable with Facebook compiling this information.

But Pew's survey indicates that in spite of all the noise Zuckerberg and other company heads have made about Facebook having The Best of Intentions, many of its users remain largely in the dark about how the company is collecting information about them.

Facebook users can view how the platform categorizes their interests on the "ad preferences" page in settings.

Facebook's chief security officer Alex Stamos also left the company in March.

"It really goes beyond Facebook and privacy", he said.

More news: White House mulling whether McConnell can invite Trump for SOTU

Starting today in Nigeria, only advertisers located inside the country will be able to run electoral ads, said Facebook's director of global politics and outreach, Katie Harbath, in an interview.

Despite these scandals, Facebook actually does provide "lots of options for users to control their ad preferences", said Abhishek Iyer, technical marketing manager, at Cupertino, Calif. Security firm Demisto.

"We're learning from every country", Mr Leathern said.

"There is some variance between what users say about their political ideology and what Facebook attributes to them", the Pew report found. Through all the clicking, posting and article sharing, and activity elsewhere online, Facebook builds up an ad profile for each of its users. Advertisers use that information to direct tailored messages to users.

Last year Facebook introduced an "info & ads" tab to all pages, which displays all the ads a page is now displaying.

The study noted that 84 percent of social media users said it is easy for those commercial sites to identify their race or ethnicity, while 79 percent said their hobbies and interests were easily grabbed on the sites.

Facebook still has a "multicultural affinities" listing on its ad preference page - meant to designate people who likely have an interest in a racial or ethnic culture, but none for white users.

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