Facebook improves its ad targeting system by assigning political labels to its users; however, it might not always be accurate
Facebook’s ad-based labeling for its userbase might have gone a bit too far. Even though the social-media juggernaut has a profile section that allows users to pick out their political preferences, determined by user activity and page likes. The process is not new and effectively means that if someone liked Donald Trump post back in the day, Facebook Inc. might have labeled them as a supporter of the GOP candidate.
Facebook Inc. tries to infer the information based on various metrics but the process is still a little vague according to The Verge. Liking posts or certain pages can go head-to-head while determining the labels the company puts on its users.
That being said, Facebook seems to be motivated by providing better and specific ads to users, rather than anything ominous. This makes sense given that supporters of either political party would not like to see ads for the opposing party on their respective pages.
Facebook users do have an option to delete their preset preferences. Its new ad preference tool shows suggestions such as topics, hobbies, music, sports, and even politics.
Users can visit www.facebook.com/ads/preferences to see the preferences assigned by Facebook. They have been categorized into different sections such as "Lifestyle and culture" and "US politics." Users cannot exactly pick their preferences, but can click on the “X” in the corner to disassociate themselves with political preferences.
The move comes as the company tries to serve suitable ads from sectors by identifying correct users to market it to. However, ad-blocking firms, such as AdBlock Plus has come in its way. The social-media company announced earlier this month that it will embed ads natively into its product to discourage ad blocking. That resulted in a very disjointed experience, while browsing with ad blockers enabled. AdBlock Plus released a solution to Facebook’s alternative within a matter of days, which the latter countered within hours.
This shows that Facebook is serious about ads and will collect all information possible to make its ad product as appealing to advertisers as possible. However, it has to ensure that it is not too intrusive, but information such as this can potentially be dangerous in the future.
If Facebook is to label individuals like this, the company needs to ensure authentic information. To do that, things such as political affiliations should not be buried deep in ad preference settings. Users generally log on to interact with friends and adjusting ad preferences every now and then is not exactly high on the priority list. As a result, users are advised to check preferences to ensure their online affiliations reflect real-life preferences.