It’s 2021, and Facebook is an iconic word that everyone has heard. Our lives wouldn’t be the same without it. We use it daily to catch up with the latest news, talk to friends, find potential partners, business affairs, and so much more.
However, even though there are certainly a lot of benefits of using Facebook, there are a lot of downsides. At first, it was a fun ecosystem to share your thoughts and find like-minded people. However, now it has grown into something bigger, with its cousin, Instagram, even allegedly leading to severe mental issues.
In the hurricane of concerns regarding Facebook, a new study has revealed something even more frightening. Apparently, Facebook can show ads to a specific individual.
If you haven’t had any experience with ads on Facebook, you probably haven’t heard of the Ads Manager. All marketers and advertisers use this tool on Facebook to create ad campaigns, manage them, and adjust them however they want.
The tool has three core functions that let you create campaigns, manage several different ads, and run analytics on ads and campaigns. The Ads Manager has been around ever since Facebook introduced ads. Lots of professionals use it to create their campaigns.
The issue isn’t with the tool itself. It’s the fact that Facebook collects personal and behavioral data from all its users. According to a new research paper, Facebook can target individual users if it has enough information on their interests. Researchers showed that it is possible to use Facebook Ads Manager to target a single intended user.
Facebook interests are vital for every advertiser on Facebook. They represent different aspects of life users are interested in. A typical example of how advertisers use interests is to target people who have expressed interest in the products or services of their competitor.
In other words, if you’ve shown interest in Apple products, Samsung can use this to target you with their ads since they offer similar products. Facebook Ads Manager lets advertisers choose interests from users based on a page or subject they’re interested in.
Over time these interests have been perfected, and Facebook has invested a lot in developing new data-gathering systems that will provide accurate information to advertisers. All of this is great for marketers across the world, but what does it mean for users?
At their core, Facebook interests are personal data. Over time, the platform gathers each user’s personal information and stores it, so each Facebook user has an extensive list of interests that defines them on the platform.
That makes it super easy to manipulate these interests and exploit them to target individuals, which was never the case in the past. Today, these extensive data mining practices allow advertisers to add all the interests of a single person and narrow down the audience to find key people (users).
It’s even easier when someone has rare and unique interests. It makes it easy to identify users on the platform. To make matters even worse, there are no safety systems in place that would prevent this.
In other words, users’ personal data is at the mercy of marketers or anyone else who wants to use the Facebook Ads Manager.
The first thing you need to do is go to your Facebook Settings and then click on Facebook Information. Go to Access Your Information and find the Information About You section, and from there, go to Ads and Ads Interests. Here, you will be able to see all the interests that Facebook has created for you.
Next to the interests, you will see an X button appearing when you hover over it. By clicking on this button, you will delete an interest. Do this for all your interests, and it will exclude you from most of the ad campaigns and make it difficult for someone to find you as an individual.
Do this regularly and consider turning off different ad settings to partially prevent Facebook from gathering your personal data. For more privacy online, you can disable third-party cookies and use browsers equipped to safeguard you against device fingerprinting.
Furthermore, try a VPN, which is a tool for encrypting all internet traffic and unblocking Facebook if necessary. Many blocks might happen based on IP address, which a VPN helps conceal. Thus, a Virtual Private Network will grant access to Facebook and supply more security and privacy for your activities on the platform.
In this highly digitalized world where data is crucial, more and more companies are gathering the personal information of their users. That’s why it’s up to us as users to protect ourselves and be more careful when using different online services, at least until more regulations are set in place.