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

By Shawn Knight · 8 replies
Jan 16, 2019
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  1. Facebook generates most of its revenue through carefully targeted advertising, not-so-common knowledge if the latest study from the Pew Research Center is any indication.

    The fact tank recently grilled a sample of Facebook users about the data the site collects on them. Specifically, when asked to comment on how the site’s algorithm categorizes their interests, 74 percent were unaware that Facebook maintains a list of their traits and interests (data about your interests can be found on the “Your ad preferences” page).

    Furthermore, 51 percent of respondents said they were not comfortable with the fact that Facebook compiles such information while 27 percent said Facebook’s portrayal of them was not very or not at all accurate. Conversely, 59 percent said Facebook’s categorizations did reflect their real-life interests.

    Facebook’s complex algorithms also make educated guesses regarding a user’s political preferences.

    Pew found that about half of Facebook users are assigned a political “affinity.” Of those who are assigned a political category, 73 percent said the categorization was very or somewhat accurate.

    Facebook takes into account a number of metrics when populating its "Your ad preferences" list including data provided by a user, their engagement with content on the site like the material they post, like and commented on and even their behavior outside of Facebook.

    Pew collected its survey data from 963 US-based Facebook users ages 18 or older between September 4 and October 1, 2018.

    Lead image courtesy Wachiwit via Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. Poll states the people were 18 years of age or older and yet most of them don't seem to have an effing clue
    this poll uses a whole 963 US-based Facebook users
  3. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,998   +2,293

    They must think the sample size is sufficient. I'm not up on sample sizes, but given the number of supposed fakebook users, the sample size seems small - to me.

    However, given that many fakebook users have simply jumped on a fad or are on because of peer pressure, it would not at all surprise me if these results reflect reality.
  4. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 733   +565

    While I do know most of this, and don't trust them whatsoever, they keep adding more and more junk and burying the settings further and further into their bloated menu system. I disabled everything I could find, but they are probably just "feel good" buttons that don't really do anything.

    I was astounded what they have me tagged for when I was far from anything they are flagged me on. Do their advertisers even know how bad it is? If I were any of the advertisers, I would be pissed. Do the advertisers know that I also boycott their products for shoving ads in my face every other post? That is if I even notice as my eyes are trained to not look at them.
    Underdog likes this.
  5. ckm88

    ckm88 TS Addict Posts: 166   +119

    The average user probably doesn't know (hell, even if they knew), they'd still use it. I mean who cares as long as you get those likes, right?
  6. mcborge

    mcborge TS Guru Posts: 576   +467

    I will admit to still using facebook, mainly for specific medical condition support groups and vaping groups (I have Fibromyalgia), but I use it on my own terms, I don't use it on my phone at all and only use it via firefox on my main rig with ads blocked and at times that suit me. I'm pretty much an ad agancy's worst nightmare as I never pay any attention to any forms of advertising what so ever and I can spot a sponsored write up a mile off so I avoid those too. If I use a product or service it's because I want to use it and not because I was cajoled into it by some ad campaign, I hate being told what to do and how to think. Ad campaigns are like scams in that they are designed to attract the gullible into parting with their cash.
    Underdog and ShagnWagn like this.
  7. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,833   +679

    What are you going to do about it? Nothing except quit everything
  8. Linoleum77

    Linoleum77 TS Enthusiast Posts: 28   +8

    Oh yeah, it's plenty! A sample size of 1000 will give you a confidence interval of +/-3% 19 times out of 20 (95%). Even for a population the size of USA.
  9. Bubbajim

    Bubbajim TechSpot Staff Posts: 681   +660

    Nah, given controls for demographics, a sample of around 1,000 people is normally representative and so accurate to within a 3% margin of error.

    This is all pretty fascinating but quite depressing. It shows the disconnect between those who are familiar with platforms like this and those who aren't. Facebook being compelled to give notices periodically and get specific opt-in consent for particular data practices doesn't seem to have enticed many people into checking out exactly what data Facebook are harvesting.

    But I guess ultimately this is similar to the ToS people skip past all the time (myself included). Out of sight, out of mind!

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