Facebook Says You're Not A Product, But Are You?

Alicia Cross
April 26, 2018

In 2017, Facebook generated earnings from continuing operations of $15.9 billion on revenue of $40.7 billion, 98% of which came from advertising. Here, you'll be able to see the "interests" assigned to your account and remove them if you choose, view which advertisers have your contact information and are now running campaigns, hide ads from certain businesses and even disable some shared data used in targeted ads.

Hard question: "Am I the product?"

These days, things are far more sophisticated as advertisers utilize all sorts of metrics to hone in on a very specific demographic - people that are more likely to be interested in their product or services.

Another method of advertising involves the advertiser bringing information about a customer to them. Advertisers might know our email addresses from a purchase or from some other non-Facebook data source.

The first involves information you choose to share about yourself when using the social network such as your age, gender or hometown. Facebook allows the advertisers to run ads for the targeted customers without letting them who matched.

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The new policy is more than 4100 words, and it clears up some of the questions we all have about where Facebook gets the information is has about us. "So, if an advertiser comes to us and says, 'All right, I am a ski shop and I want to sell skis to women, ' then we might have some sense, because people shared skiing-related content, or said they were interested in that, they shared whether they're a woman, and then we can show the ads to the right people without that data ever changing hands and going to the advertiser". But more than that, they answered growing questions about how Facebook's bottom line would hold up, given the bad press over the company's approach to consumer privacy. The way Facebook targets ads is by using information from users. The company calls it selling "space" on Facebook, similar to what it's like on TV, radio, or newspaper. But Facebook does sell your data, anonymized and in pieces. For example, we can show you photos from your closest friends at the top of your News Feed, or show you articles about issues that matter most to you, or suggest groups that you might want to join.

What if I don't want my data used to show me ads?

Ultimately, you can't opt out of ads on Facebook entirely but through the ad preferences section, you can exert some control over how your data is used to show you ads.

Lastly, there's a ton of information that websites and apps send to Facebook about our use of their services. No matter how you spin this, the fact that Facebook collects so much data about you is what turns you into a product for those third-parties willing to pay the price for targeted access. And for small businesses, it levels the playing field and lets them reach an audience that they never could have before.

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