Social media knows what you did last summer. In fact, it also might know if you're a heavy drinker, how many employees your workplace has, and your political leaning.
Facebook has managed to forge a $367 billion empire by providing a completely free service. That’s because information is more valuable than ever – and they have a lot of it. Although most of the reaping of data from our Internet activity is “strictly business”, sometimes it can seem downright creepy.
Following Facebook’s revamp of their Ad Preferences feature, it’s now easier than ever to see exactly what they know and how it’s being used to sell you stuff. Using this feature, you can even see the 98 data points about your personal life that Facebook uses to target you with adverts.
After logging into Facebook, all you need to do is go to facebook.com/ads/preferences to see the list of media outlets, artists, places, subjects, and so on that Facebook predicts you might like based on your current interests. You’ll also be able to check out the list of advertisers who have your contact details and those whose website or app you’ve already gone on through Facebook.
It even knows your political leaning if you live in the US, the New York Times reported this week. Go on to the “Lifestyle and Culture” tab under the “Interests” header. If you find the box called “US Politics”, it will then describe you either as liberal, moderate, or conservative.
This is all vital information for companies wanting to advertise on Facebook. It allows them to identify who they want to reach and trends within that audience. For example, if you want to advertise your product, Facebook can tell you the exact demographic that buy similar products and deliver your ad straight to them. This audience data can range from mundane information, like age and gender, to the insanely specific – like if they buy painkiller medication or if they tend to be an early adopter of technology.
You can delete any of these preferences, which are automatically ascribed to you, but bear in mind it won’t result in less adverts.
As the Washington Post reports, these are the 98 data points that Facebook knows about you:
- Education level
- Field of study
- Ethnic affinity
- Income and net worth
- Home ownership and type
- Home value
- Property size
- Square footage of home
- Year home was built
- Household composition
- Users who have an anniversary within 30 days
- Users who are away from family or hometown
- Users who are friends with someone who has an anniversary, is newly married or engaged, recently moved, or has an upcoming birthday
- Users in long-distance relationships
- Users in new relationships
- Users who have new jobs
- Users who are newly engaged
- Users who are newly married
- Users who have recently moved
- Users who have birthdays soon
- Expectant parents
- Mothers, divided by “type” (soccer, trendy, etc.)
- Users who are likely to engage in politics
- Conservatives and liberals
- Relationship status
- Job title
- Office type
- Users who own motorcycles
- Users who plan to buy a car (and what kind/brand of car, and how soon)
- Users who bought auto parts or accessories recently
- Users who are likely to need auto parts or services
- Style and brand of car you drive
- Year car was bought
- Age of car
- How much money user is likely to spend on next car
- Where user is likely to buy next car