Study: most users don't understand how Facebook handles their data

    While experts worry about the threatening centralization of personal data in the hands of several Internet giants with unpredictable consequences for people , users themselves do not even understand the problem.

    Most Facebook users have no idea that a social network uses their personal profiles and the history of visited pages for targeted advertising and selection of advertisers. Many do not know that the history of likes can determine sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views of a person. A survey by the Pew Research Center showed total illiteracy of users regarding privacy.

    This is not to say that the results were unexpected. The Facebook service is designed for the most ordinary people, many of whom hardly use a computer at all, while others do not even suspect that they are on the Internet (that is, they do not know about the existence of other sites).

    It is worth recalling that ten years ago, Google representatives stopped people on the streets of New York and asked the question: “What is a web browser?” . Almost no one could answer correctly.

    A survey of 963 adults in the United States was conducted last year from September 4 to October 1. Three quarters of respondents (74%) stated that they do not know that Facebook tracks the user's personal interests in order to extract benefits through targeted advertising.

    The personal data of the person who uses Facebook is contained in your advertising preferences., the existence of which most people also do not know. After demonstrating this section, about half of the respondents did not like what they saw. 51% of respondents said they did not like the collection of such information.

    During the survey, users were also asked to express an opinion about two specific classifiers that work on Facebook: one to identify the political preferences of users, and the other their racial and ethnic “affinity”.

    As it turned out, Facebook determined the political interests of about half of the users (51%). Among them, 73% said that the automatic classifier "very" or "in many ways" is accurate, and 27% said that he described them not very accurately or completely inaccurate. If you evaluate the entire audience as a whole, then Facebook has well defined the political interests of 37% of its users.

    For some users, Facebook also contains the “multicultural affinity” category. According to the rules of targeted advertising on Facebook, this list is intended to denote the user's “closeness” to various racial and ethnic groups (but not belonging to them, because this will already be racism). Facebook defined this category for 21% of respondents. Here, accuracy is slightly lower than in politics: 60% recognized the correctness of machine learning, and 37% said that proximity to this racial or ethnic group is not particularly strong.

    It would seem that such close surveillance of users will force them to change their behavior and think about the problem. But no. Even dissatisfaction will not lead to a massive closure of accounts: social network is too important for people. A recent study showed, the average Facebook user will not agree to close his account for 1 year for a fee of less than $ 1000.

    Most users say that social platforms like Facebook easily identify their race and ethnicity (84%), hobbies and interests (79%), political interests (71%) and religious beliefs (65%).

    Facebook analyzes dozens of different aspects of users' lives - and allows advertisers to focus on this private information when they buy ads. The page “Your advertising preferences” contains a small squeeze from the advertising profile, which made up algorithms based on personal data, actions on the site, likes, comments, history of visited sites on the Internet, etc. Facebook has accumulated a large amount of such information due to Like buttons with tracking trackers installed on many third-party sites on the Internet. In addition, more and more of them are replacing their own authentication systems with a service from Facebook.

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