Facebook is an extremely smart application that is related to our everyday life in many ways. Each of us spends most of the day listing topics on Facebook, friends, stories, etc. Have you ever talked to a friend about a certain product that you want to buy, and immediately after that the same product appeared as an advertisement on your Facebook application? We are sure this has happened to each of you at least once. We also know that this has happened to millions of Facebook app users. From here, the users of this social network started to wonder if Facebook is spying on them and does Facebook listen to their conversations?
Scandals over the Facebook application have been going on for a long time. Facebook app users’ trust has plummeted since the Cambridge Analytica scandal erupted. It was then revealed that Facebook was revealing the personal data of millions of users to this consulting company. This data is then used for political purposes.
Suspicions that social networks such as Instagram and Facebook are using the microphones on our phones to eavesdrop on our conversations and then target ads have long been around. This is how what we said above actually happens, and we’m sure you’ve all experienced it at least once. Facebook executives were questioned about this topic in 2016, but they have consistently denied this claim. When the Senate hearing took place in 2018, Senator Gary Peters questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the subject. To this Mark Zuckerberg answered categorically and without hesitation with one word: No!
How Does Facebook Target Ads?
You may be sure that Facebook listens to you, but it is not. The methods that Facebook uses to collect data are so sophisticated and complex that literally what you say next appears to you as an ad on Facebook. The methods used by Facebook have not yet been explored, but Brooklyn-based artist Same Lavigne has given his views and explanations on the intersection of technology and society. Each company has its own target group to which it wants to advertise its product or service. For example, the company sets a target group for women over the age of 25 who live in New York, so if you fall into that category you will surely have at least one ad in your activity on Facebook. But that is not all. For example, if you talk to your friend who is also in this category, has already interacted with that ad, and may be a user of that company’s products, then the algorithm used by Facebook sees that you are with that friend and sees the other things you have in common. For example, the common denominator between you and your friend is that you have a pet. Then, for example, while you are with a friend, you post a picture of you and your pets. In this way the algorithm determines your interests and realizes that you may be interested in the product offered by the company, and then with the help of the algorithm you get an ad in your NewsFeed on Facebook. This is a complex and really fast and accurate data collection system, which gives you as a user the feeling that someone is eavesdropping on your conversation.
Facebook isn’t listening to you… But they are tracking you
Every activity you have on your Facebook profile, whether you are browsing a page, putting likes, searching for people or pages, Facebook’s algorithm collects data and other information it needs to store you in the appropriate target group.