Third-Party Data on Social Media

Third-Party Data on Social Media

With all the discussion of Facebook’s recent data scandal, third-party data is a major topic of discussion among social media services. (Find out more about Facebook’s difficulties, referred to as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in my article from last week.) Facebook is bringing a number of changes due to the scandal, most of which will restrict access to users’ data. Meanwhile, another social media giant is in the news for a somewhat puzzling reason, as it may soon be making third party access possible.

Here’s a rundown of just some of Facebook’s updates, as well as Snapchat’s recent news.

Facebook is ending their Partner Categories

Facebook is now ending their Partner Categories. According to TechCrunch, Facebook is going to stop using third-party data in its targeted advertising. With targeted ads, a number of different tools are used. Until now, Facebook had used data collected from third parties as one way to accurately target ads toward users. After the recent data scandal, though, Facebook is ending the practice. According to Entrepreneur, companies like Axciom and Experian were part of Facebook’s Partner Categories. TechCrunch notes that Facebook has said the decision is in place permanently, not just while they try to work their way through their current issues.

Facebook wants your help spotting data mining apps

Facebook is focusing heavily on finding apps that could misuse data gathered from their users. In fact, according to CNET, they will now pay users who find “data mining” apps. Facebook already had a program in place that rewarded people for finding other issues on the site. With this program, people could get paid for reporting apps that are using data in a way that breaks Facebook’s policies. CNET also notes that some “bug bounty programs” can offer rewards of up to $100,000.

Snapchat may let third party apps connect to your account

With the flurry of news around Facebook’s handling of third party data, news has come out that Snapchat may be planning to let third party apps connect to users’ accounts. Mashable has reported that the current beta version of Snapchat has a new feature called “Connected Apps.” Bitmoji and Shazam have already been able to connect to Snapchat accounts. But if this setting in Snapchat’s beta is any indication, more apps will soon be able to connect. Of course, just because it’s in beta doesn’t mean it will actually be released in full. Whatever happens, news of its inclusion in the beta app has come at a strange and unfortunate time.

Now Facebook’s Ads Connect to Your Offline Shopping

Now Facebook’s Ads Connect to Your Offline Shopping

Facebook is in the news again, and like last time, it’s got to do with their targeted ads. As you may be aware of, Facebook has targeted ads that let advertisers direct their ads toward specific users based on things like their profile information (age, location, interests, etc.) and browser cookies (meaning your Facebook ads might be targeted to you based on websites you visited). There has previously been some wariness toward these targeted ads, particularly the ads that pop up based on previous web activity. But many people pay this advertising no mind and aren’t particularly worried about how these ads are being directed to them.

Now Facebook is upping their ad game. In a recent announcement, Facebook described how some businesses are now able to target their ads toward people who physically visit their brick and mortar stores. Businesses can do this because of Facebook’s ability to follow the location of a user that has location enabled in their app. Facebook’s announcement suggests that these ads might be used to target recent store visitors and suggest new merchandise or that it could be used to exclude store visitors if they’re running a promotion that’s exclusive to new buyers. Whatever the reason, though, some Facebook users are sure to find it unsettling seeing ads based on where they’ve recently been.

There are ways to avoid unwanted targeted ads. Though you can’t go into Facebook’s settings and completely turn off all ads, you can stop them from targeting you in the some of the ways mentioned above. You can stop targeted ads based on your website activity by visiting the Facebook Ads page. Where it says “Ads based on my use of websites and apps,” just click Edit and select Off from the dropdown box. You can also use a page linked from Facebook Ads to edit what information they use in their other targeted ads. Clicking Edit next to “Ads based on my preferences” displays a button that reads “Visit Ad Preferences.” On the page it takes you to, you can change which interests and pieces of personal information targeted ads are based on, among other things. This can be a bit time consuming, but it may be worth it if you’re interested in cutting back on your targeted ads.

Most importantly, if you don’t want the new aspect of Facebook’s targeted ads to affect you, make sure you don’t have location enabled in your Facebook app. In the app’s menu, navigate to “Account Settings” and tap on “Location.” Where it says “Location History,” press the button to switch it to “OFF.” After doing this, you can also go to your phone’s settings, go to your apps, choose the Facebook app, and change the app’s permissions to no longer allow it access to your location.

To be clear, these new targeted ads are very likely exciting to many people, and if you’re one of those people, that’s fantastic! But if you’re wary of ad targeting and access to your location, be sure to look carefully into your Facebook and phone settings.