How to see what Facebook knows about you (or thinks they do)

You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘if you’re not paying, you’re the product.’

The concept is that with free services like Facebook, they are making money through selling ‘you’ to advertisers.

Advertisers, especially online, look for specific segments of the population to better target their ads. So online companies collect and categorize users to better position themselves with these advertisers.

“The ads you see are influenced by a variety of factors, the most basic of which is the demographic information—such as age, gender and location—from your profile and activity. We take great care to keep your information secure.” – Facebook

But what does Facebook actually know about you? A lot. The company is constantly collecting information from your interactions, your friends interactions, and data collected through other websites.

Facebook has made it easy to find out how they categorized you. Just go to this website, https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences.

You’ll be able to see a variety of categories and subcategories that advertisers purchase.

Because we’re in a presidential election year, you may find it interesting what Facebook thinks is your political ideology. If you haven’t specifically identified it in your profile, the company attempts to make their best guess based upon the information they collected.

Go to the “Lifestyle and culture” category. If you don’t see a “US Politics” subcategory, you may need to click on the “See More” link.

Did they guess right?

Note that you can delete the categories they’ve defined you as through this site. Facebook likes that as it helps them better target ads to you if you’re truthful.

Facebook is providing this information to be more transparent in how their platform works after questions about their “trending topics” and more recently the social media platforms announcement that they would be blocking ad-blockers.

Yes, you can delete all of them if you want. But know that doing so will leave Facebook with less information about you. That will lead to the ads you see being less targeted and more random, which is what Facebook’s studies have found are what people really don’t like about online advertising.

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