3 out of 4 users don’t know Facebook categorizes them for ad targeting; with political and racial affinity being some labels: Pew Research

The Washington-based Pew Research Center released a report that shares the results of its survey based on Facebook user data, yesterday. The survey was conducted on a sample of Facebook users (963 U.S. Facebook users aged 18 years and above) who were asked to present their opinion on the data collected about them by the platform. The nationally representative survey was conducted by the Pew Institute between September 4, 2018, and October 1, 2018.

Respondents of the survey were asked to answer a series of questions related to the content present on the Facebook ad categories page. Facebook allows its users to view a “partial compilation” of how they are classified on its “Your ad preferences” page. All the results of this analysis are based on these self-reported answers. Let’s have a look at the key findings from the survey.

60% of Facebook users are assigned 10+ categories on their ad preferences page

The report states that Facebook ad preferences page consists of “your categories” tab i.e. a list of a user’s interests analyzed by Facebook’s algorithm based on content that they have posted, liked, commented on or shared.

                                                   Pew Institute survey

As per the survey results:

  • 88% of American said that they are assigned categories in this system, while 11% saw a message saying, “You have no behaviours” on the ad preferences page.
  • A large majority of Facebook users have 10 or more categories listed on the page.
  • Six-in-ten Facebook users said that their preferences page had either 10 to 20 (27%) or 21 or more (33%) categories for them.
  • 27% noted that their list had fewer than 10 categories.
  • 40% of users who go on Facebook multiple times a day are listed in 21 or more categories as compared to 16% of the “less-than-daily” Facebook users.
  • Facebook users who have been on the platform for 10 years or longer (44%) have higher chances of being listed in 21 or more categories as compared to those with less than five years of Facebook experience (22%).

74% of Facebook users didn’t know the platform lists their interests for advertisers

As per the survey results:

  • Three-quarters of Facebook users (74%) did not know the list of categories existed on Facebook, with 12% saying that they were aware of it.
  • 59% of Facebook users say the list was very (13%) or somewhat (46%) accurate about their interests, while 27% of them found the list not very (22%) or not at all ( 5%) accurate.

Pew Institute survey

  • Almost half of the Facebook users (51%) said answered that they were not comfortable with Facebook creating the ‘interests list’.
  • 5% of Facebook users were very comfortable with the list and another 31% said that they are somewhat comfortable.

Facebook’s political and ‘racial affinity’ labels don’t necessarily match users’ views

Facebook assigns political labels to its users. Users who are assigned a political label are equally divided between “liberal or very liberal (34%)”, “conservative or very conservative “(35%) and “moderate” (29%).

Pew Institute survey

As per the survey results:

  • Close to three-quarters (73%) of the ones assigned a label says the listing is’ very accurate’ or ‘somewhat accurate’ about their views. However, 27% of those say that label is not very or not at all accurate.
  • Facebook’s algorithm also assigns some of its users to groups by “multicultural affinity,” that are assigned to users whose activities “aligns with” certain cultures. About 21% of the Facebook users say they are assigned such an affinity.
  • 60% of the Facebook users assigned with multicultural affinity say they have a “very” or “somewhat” strong affinity for the group they were assigned, while 37% say they do not have a strong affinity.
  • 57% of the Facebook users assigned a group say they consider themselves a member of that group, with 39% saying they are not members of that group.

“We want people to understand how our ad settings and controls work..while we and the rest of the online ad industry need to educate people on how interest-based advertising works and how we protect people’s information, we welcome conversations about transparency and control”, Facebook told The Verge.

Check out the official Pew research centre report here.

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*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Security News – Packt Hub authored by Natasha Mathur. Read the original post at: https://hub.packtpub.com/3-out-of-4-users-dont-know-facebook-categorizes-them-for-ad-targeting-with-political-and-racial-affinity-being-some-labels-pew-research/