Facebook's ad tools can be targeted at a single user, study finds

Facebook's advertising tools can target a single user, research finds   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Facebook's advertising tools can target a single user based on their online and offline activities, according to a study by a team of researchers from Europe.

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The researchers from Madrid's University Carlos III, Austria’s Graz University of Technology, and a Spanish firm GTD System & Software Engineering, noted that the social network’s ad platform “can be systematically exploited to deliver ads exclusively to a specific user".

In a pre-print research paper titled 'Unique on Facebook: Formulation and Evidence of (Nano) targeting Individual Users with non-PII Data', the team highlighted that privacy of an individual is bound by the ability of a third party to reveal their identity. Personal Identifiable Information (PII) items like passport ID or a mobile phone number may be used to uniquely identify a person.

They tested 21 Facebook ad campaigns and found a combination of non-PII items can also identify an individual to craft ad campaigns for specific Facebook users.

The non-PII items considered in the analysis are interests Facebook assigns to users based on their online and offline activities like credit card transactions or mobile phone calls.

Also Read | Facebook to develop tools for advertisers to tackle harmful content

The study notes that users’ interests on the social network are intentionally designed to make them act on an ad campaign. Users’ interests are important to Facebook as the company’s revenue is dependent on delivering relevant ads to users. Many advertisers use the social media firm’s platform to create ad campaigns based on users' interests, the study noted.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 7:55:45 PM |

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