2 min readHow Facebook Is Using Your Data, And Why You Should Be Concerned

If Cambridge Analytica has been able to influence  politics in the United States just by utilizing publicly available user data, how much more powerful will Facebook’s targeting AI, one that has access to all your posts, messages, and other private information, be at changing your behavior?

While news of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data leaks is all over the internet, many Facebook users seem to be clueless as to how this issue can affect them directly. This article from the Intercept explains how Facebook is using data for advertising, and how the things that you share online can actually be used to shape your future decisions.

Some Important Highlights

  • Facebook and Cambridge-Analytica are more similar than we thought.
    In a “confidential” document, Facebook outlines how its new advertising service whose targeting system goes beyond demographics and consumer prefernces.
  • Through the FBLearner Flow, advertisers can now target consumers based on how they will behave, what they will buy, and what they will think. 
  • Cambridge Analytica uses “psychographic” profiling of voters and use consumer demographics they have collected from Facebook to predict political action. Facebook, meanwhile, sits on the motherlode, with unlimited access to user data which can be used, to shape consumer behavior.
  • Facebook does not sell individual data, but just like Equifax and Experian, it is a data wholesaler.
  • Experts consulted mention a number of ethical concerns to Facebook’s use of data. 
  • There is no information that explains how Facebook monetizes its AI.
    Facebook managed to focus the conversation on how  Cambridge Analytica acquired the data, rather than why it wanted the data in the first place.
  • Facebook has repeatedly boasted on its website its capacity to influence elections, but such content are now gone from public view.
  • Despite the scandal, the number of people using Facebook continues to grow.

Why It Matters

If Cambridge Analytica has been able to influence  politics in the United States just by utilizing publicly available user data, how much more powerful will Facebook’s targeting AI, one that has access to all your posts, messages, and other private information, be at changing your behavior?

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