Want to see what Facebook thinks it knows about you?

Jeff Smack
Aug 25, 2016 · 2 min read

Then log in to Facebook and check this out: https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences

This is not just a list of the the pages and profiles you’ve liked and interacted with. It’s also an index of the types of content you’ve shared and reacted to. It’s an inference of interests. Go check it out.

Maybe it’s time to prune the garden of your profile. Pull some weeds. Like that show, “Weeds.” Did you even watch that? Well if Facebook thinks you liked it, then that info may be used to serve you ads.

At first take, this topic is received as one of privacy concerns. People are a little creeped out to see what Facebook has gotten wrong or worse, what Facebook has gotten right. However, I think it’s more about the relevance of the advertising and your right to curate and design the criteria by which you are served ads.

When I first went in to my preferences I was surprised to find that Facebook had me tagged for Democrat, Republican and also Socialist political topics. I’m not a joiner. I don’t consider myself a member of any of these groups. So I thought, “Haha silly Facebook, you are sooo wrong.” Then I considered that it isn’t really the point to identify an accurate affiliation to competing groups.

If I’m independent or undecided, or if Facebook can’t discern which group I’m in, then all of those advertisers may be vying for my attention and therefore those tags are logical in the realm of Facebook targeting. Maybe I’m the Facebook user equivalent of a swing state.

I’m not a “Buddhist” or a “Lutheran” either. But Facebook has some reason to claim that these are relevant affinities.

Needless to labor the point, I removed all of them. And a few more. However I left “Horror Movies” and the “Atlanta” series on FX. Because I do like those and I do invite advertising that is relevant to those topics.

Online advertising has a lot of privacy, transparency and relevance issues to resolve but I am encouraged by tools like this and the evolving participatory democracy that they may represent.

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