If you're like me, you tend to shy away from posting anything related to politics during election season. Odds are, my witty posts aren't going to persuade anyone one way or the other.
As The New York Times first reported, Facebook classifies your account as Conservative, Moderate or Liberal based on a myriad of factors, even if you don't partake in political coverage. Facebook provides advertisers with this data (anonymized) to help them better target users.
Those factors include pages you've liked -- even they aren't political -- your friends, an ad you may have clicked (even if by accident), age, race, gender, location...the list goes on. Facebook has extraordinary access to a data about its users, and is very good at using it to infer your personal tastes.
To see how Facebook identified your political affiliation, follow these steps:
- On your computer, visit your Facebook Ad Preferences page.
- A list of interest categories is shown, ranging from "Business and industry" to "People." We're only concerned with Lifestyle and Culture right now, which is tucked away under the More dropdown.
- After selecting Lifestyle and Culture, several thumbnails will populate. Look for the thumbnail titled US Politics. You might have to click on See More to find it.
Kind of unnerving, right?
But Facebook doesn't always get it right. For example, it has West Africa as an interest of mine because I clicked on a related ad. I have no idea when this occurred, nor do I have any problems with West Africa, but it's not an interest of mine.
If you want to know why Facebook included an interest, click on the thumbnail and read through a brief explanation. Click on the "X" to remove it from your ad preferences.