Facebook, the company that’s getting roasted every next day has published another ‘hard questions’ blog post. This time, Facebook wants to tell us about the information known to the advertisers who want to throw ads in front of the 2 billion people on the social network.
Just like they have repeatedly stated in the past, Facebook stressed that they don’t sell user data. They take inputs from the advertisers and throw ads accordingly. The company calls it selling “space” on Facebook, similar to what it’s like on TV, radio, or newspaper.
For ad targeting, Facebook said it analyzes people’s activity on the social network, everything including their reactions, comments, posts, pages they follow, articles they read, personal information shared, etc.
They use the information supplied by the advertisers such as email addresses of their customers. Also, the information sent by websites and apps that people use is taken into consideration. So, if you search for dog jackets on Amazon, Facebook will flood your feed with dog jacket ads.
Facebook said it only tells advertisers general insights related to the ad campaign. For instance, demographics, the number of people who clicked their ads, how much time they spent, whether the ads are more popular on mobile devices or desktops, etc. Facebook claims that advertisers can’t pinpoint a particular user on the network.
As users, people have ‘some’ control over what advertisements are displayed on their screen. It is possible to turn off the targeting, but not the ads altogether, for obvious reasons.
Hard question: “Am I the product?”
Facebook doesn’t agree with the internet’s common belief that the social network is free because people are the product. The company considers social media as the product instead.
“It’s the same with a free search engine, website or newspaper. The core product is reading the news or finding information – and the ads exist to fund that experience.”
All of this might sound assuring to some people, but Facebook has been half-heartedly addressing the primary concern that the company was careless when an outsider took advantage of their flawed policies and scooped people’s data. Also, Facebook sat on it for years until someone else came forward.