Facebook turns off ad targeting tool based on third-party data

Posted March 30, 2018

People are, understandably, a little spooked after the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal that left millions of people, and their personal data, out in the open.

They are also adding tools to allow users to see what data is being collected and giving them the option and ability to delete any of it.

Following Facebook's recent privacy woes and breaches, the social media network has made a decision to mitigate further risks by cutting off access data brokers hitherto had to its multi-billion dollar ad platform. "These updates are about transparency - not about gaining new rights to collect, use, or share data", reads the post.

It also comes just weeks before the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect. Data mining firm Cambridge Analytica has been accused of harvesting personal information of over 50 million Facebook users illegally to influence polls in several countries.

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The change will see advertisers no longer being permitted to access data about individuals from large third-party data aggregation companies like Acxiom and Experian.

The updates include easier access to Facebook's user settings and tools to easily search for, download and delete personal data stored by Facebook.

Conversely, brands that sell directly to consumers - companies along the lines of Dollar Shave Club, Casper and Warby Parker - are less likely to need third-party data to run ad campaigns, since they collect their own data from their customers.

For weeks, the scandal has had Facebook on the defensive over their data policies, with social media campaigns calling on users to delete their accounts and suggestions that Cambridge Analytica used the data to target voters in the 2016 US election with political advertisements based on their psychological profile.

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"Facebook's bug bounty program will expand so that people can also report to us if they find misuses of data by app developers", said Ime Archibong, vice-president of partnerships at Facebook, in a blog post. "With the GDPR coming into force in a couple of months, data privacy is now high on many organisations' agendas".

"If we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them from our platform", Archibong said, adding that the changes are meant to "help mitigate any breach of trust with the broader developer ecosystem". Some Facebook users agreed to give their information to Kogan's app, but apaarently he also got permission to harvest data on all their Facebook friends, Mint reported.

A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to BuzzFeed News, "We are strongly committed to protecting people's information". But the company hopes its 2.2 billion users will have an easier time navigating its complex and often confusing privacy and security settings.

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