Facebook Now Lets You Know How Your Data Is Shared To Advertisers

Dayananda Bhate - Aug 26, 2019


Facebook Now Lets You Know How Your Data Is Shared To Advertisers

Facebook recently updated the Ad Preferences and “Why am I seeing this ad?” tool, helping users find more information about why they are seeing the ads.

A recent Facebook blog post introduced an update of two tools, Ad Preferences and “Why am I seeing this ad?” tool. Both of these were released the first time four years ago but was not really helpful for users. The “Why am I seeing this ad?” tool used to show only one or two general reasons why an advertiser wanted the user to see an ad, such as they fit the demographic or they have visited a related page. The Ad Preferences tool could actually have been helpful except it was not effective. Even if you can block unwanted ads from appearing with the tool, similar ads will keep showing up.

The announced update of these tools will, as stated by Facebook, provide more transparency in data sharing. The “Why am I seeing this ad?” feature will now provide detailed information such as the group you are in, the page you liked or the site you visited that led an advertiser to you. The tool also will provide users guide to manage ad preferences.

But perhaps the more interesting part is the improvement in the Ad Preferences page. Facebook added a new tool to check “businesses who have uploaded and shared a list with your info,” which is accessible by clicking “Advertisers and Businesses.” The information it provides contains a list of third-party marketing firms and data brokers which have shared your information. While this information is helpful in some way, sometimes it can be creepy to find a company name that cannot be found on Google appearing on your list.

While the newly added and improved tools give Facebook users a stronger sense of control, these only work after the users’ data were shared, so actually, the users still have little power over their data being shared. They probably will keep seeing ads that made them wonder if their data privacy being violated. The difference here is how they now have a tool to check who might have violated their privacy. The only improvement in the user experience is that users will have a more reliable source of information to support their decision, perhaps at a day when it gets too creepy, to delete their account.

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