Does Facebook know whether your political preferences are progressive, conservative, or somewhere in between? Yes, there’s an algorithm for that. You can find out for yourself how Facebook categorizes your political predilections and uses them to determine which ads you see (or don’t see). Here’s how:
- On your computer (not a mobile device) log in to your Facebook account and go to Ad Preferences. Once on your “ad preferences” page, you will see what Facebook considers are your preferences, divided into various categories including “Business and Industry,” “News and Entertainment,” “Hobbies and Activities,” “Technology,” “People,” etc. There is a drop-down menu entitled “More” that has additional areas of data Facebook collects about you.
Each of the “preference” categories includes both specific pages you’ve liked and broader categories of things Facebook thinks you’re into based on every click, scroll, and hover you’ve made in your Newsfeed,” Thrillist reports.
- On your “Ad Preference” page, go to the “More” drop-down menu, and select “Lifestyle and Culture.” Go to “Your Information,” and select “Your Categories.” Within “Your Categories,” you will find a box entitled “US Politics” and it will show in parenthesis how Facebook’s algorithm categorizes you politically.
- If Facebook got your political preference wrong, or if you prefer Facebook not use your political leanings to decide which ads you should see, you can opt out. Just hover over the “US Politics” box and click the “X.”
Even if you never discuss politics on your Facebook timeline, even if you have never visited or “liked” a politician’s Facebook page, even if you have tried to remain politically under the radar, Facebook has put you in a political category. Absent concrete information about candidates or causes, Facebook uses a “birds of a feather, flock together” theorem to determine your political persuasion.
Facebook assesses “the self-professed political identities of people who like the same pages that you do, and lumping you in with them.”
Needless to say, the information Facebook is gathering on the political leanings of its 204 million U.S. users is invaluable for political campaigns, political parties, political action committees, and others looking for people who could be positively or negatively influenced by candidates or causes.
- For more on the story, see Thrillist
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