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Part I: What information do Facebook advertisers know about me?

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Facebook has provided responses to some of the frequently asked questions regarding how the company manages user data.

This was made public by Rob Goldman, Facebook’s Vice President, Ads in the latest edition of Hard Questions, a series from Facebook that addresses the impact of its products on the society.

“To build a product that connects people across continents and cultures, we need to make sure everyone can afford it. Advertising lets us keep Facebook free. But we aren’t blind to the challenges this model poses. It requires a steadfast commitment to privacy.

“So our promise is this: we do not tell advertisers who you are or sell your information to anyone. That has always been true. We think relevant advertising and privacy aren’t in conflict, and we’re committed to doing both well.

“We know that many of you have questions about how we use your information in advertising – and what control you have over it. I’ll address some of the most frequent questions we get, but first I’ll lay out the basic mechanics of Facebook advertising,” said Goldman.

Goldman further listed ways that advertisers can reach users on Facebook with ads:

  • Information from your use of Facebook. When you use Facebook, you can choose to share things about yourself like your age, gender, hometown, or friends. You can also click or like posts, Pages, or articles. We use this information to understand what you might be interested in and hopefully show you ads that are relevant.

If a bike shop comes to Facebook wanting to reach female cyclists in Atlanta, we can show their ad to women in Atlanta who liked a Page about bikes. But here’s what’s key: these businesses don’t know who you are.

We provide advertisers with reports about the kinds of people seeing their ads and how their ads are performing, but we don’t share information that personally identifies you. You can always see the ‘interests’ assigned to you in your ad preferences, and if you want, remove them.

  • Information that an advertiser shares with us. In this case, advertisers bring us the customer information so they can reach those people on Facebook. These advertisers might have your email address from a purchase you made, or from some other data source.

We find Facebook accounts that match that data, but we don’t tell the advertiser who matched.

In ad preferences you can see which advertisers with your contact information are currently running campaigns – and you can click the top right corner of any ad to hide all ads from that business.

  • Information that websites and apps send to Facebook. Some of the websites and apps you visit may use Facebook tools to make their content and ads more relevant and better understand the results of their ad campaigns.

For example, if an online retailer is using Facebook Pixel, they can ask Facebook to show ads to people who looked at a certain style of shoe or put a pair of shoes into their shopping cart.

If you don’t want this data used to show you ads, you can turn it off in ad preferences. My colleague David Baser shared more detail about how we, and others in the industry, use this information in a post earlier this week.

To be continued…

@TechEconomyNG connects past-present-emerging technological impacts on Businesses, People and Cities. All Correspondence to: [email protected]

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