Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Ad Targeting Settings in Facebook Reveal Use of Mass Collections of Private Data

Katie Notopoulos, Buzzfeed News:

On Facebook under Settings, there’s a page in the Ads section where you can view your Ad Preferences. Most of this is fairly straightforward — choices about how you’ll allow ads and how advertisers target you based on things like what pages you’ve liked. But there’s one section there that will probably surprise you: a list of advertisers “Who use a contact list added to Facebook.”


The list of Advertisers, a feature Facebook added for transparency, is incomprehensible to anyone who isn’t an expert in advertising (and even some who are!), and leads to the unsettling realization that, fuck, man, our data is out there and trafficked without our consent and being used by advertisers in ways we have no clue about.

Here’s mine. Me. A person who has lived in New York for 20 years. There’s a South Carolina real estate agent and car dealerships in Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Michigan, It makes absolutely no sense.

Anti-spam laws seem increasingly antiquated. Canada’s law — which went into effect several years ago and is one of the most stringent I know of — requires that recipients give clear consent to receiving marketing messages through electronic means, including email and text message. But it does not place any restrictions on companies from using email addresses as a means of targeting ads. The American aptly-named CAN SPAM law still allows renting an email list, and there’s nothing preventing that list from being used to target ads.