NEW YORK (AP) — To get an idea of the data Facebook collects about you, just ask for it. You’ll get a file with every photo and comment you’ve posted, all the ads you’ve clicked on, stuff you’ve liked and searched for and everyone you’ve friended — and unfriended — over the years.
This trove of data is used to decide which ads to show you. It also makes using Facebook more seamless and enjoyable — say, by determining which posts to emphasize in your feed, or reminding you of friends’ birthdays.
Facebook’s privacy practices have come under fire after a Trump-affiliated political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, got data inappropriately from millions of Facebook users. While past privacy debacles have centered on what marketers gather on users, the stakes are higher this time because the firm is alleged to have created psychological profiles to influence how people vote or even think about politics and society.
You can turn off ad targeting and see generic ads instead, the way you would on television or in a newspaper. In the ad settings, you’d need to uncheck all your interests, interactions with companies and websites and other personal information you don’t want to use in targeting. Of course, if you click on a new interest after this, you’ll have to go back and uncheck it in your ad preferences to prevent targeting. It’s a tedious task.
As Facebook explains, it puts you in target categories based on your activity. So, if you are 35, live in Seattle and have liked an outdoor adventure page, Facebook may show you an ad for a mountain bike shop in your area.
But activity isn’t limited to pages or posts you like, comments you make and your use of outside apps and websites.
“If you start typing something and change your mind and delete it, Facebook keeps those and analyzes them too,” Zeynep Tufekci, a prominent techno-sociologist, said in a 2017 TED talk .
And, increasingly, Facebook tries to match what it knows about you with your offline data, purchased from data brokers or gathered in other ways
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