Monday , December 6 2021

Facebook profiles users excessively, giving rise to suspicions


Whoever surfed on Facebook has probably noticed that advertising on the platform is very consistent with personal tastes. The logic of this is that one of the social networking strategies for generating ads is to understand the interests of users.

With every move of the cursor (the company acknowledged this year that it can track user movements), click or "like" within the platform, the algorithm can identify preferences and assign them to each person.

Now reveals a study released yesterday and conducted by researchers at Carlos III University of Madrid to Facebook "overperfill" users. According to the study, only 42.91% of the interests that Facebook allocates users for advertising purposes are reflected in the ads they receive. The rest is on the platform.

This suggests that people are categorized for the advertising strategy, but also extra data is taken that is not used for this purpose.

The results showed that the number of interests the company collects per person is between 300 and 500. However, there is a 10% allocated from close to 1000 to almost nine thousand preferences.

"We analyzed more than 126,000 interests and found that some of them correspond to what the new European legislation defines as sensitive data," says engineer Ngel Cuevas, co-author of the study, to "El Mercurio".

"Users are marked with preferences for homosexuality, political ideologies or health issues. This is very striking because the legislation indicates that you can not use information from which your sexual identity or religious or religious orientations can be read. We are not lawyers, but we believe that if it does not go against the legislation, there is at least one doubtful red line, says Cuevas.

It is expected that the results of his research will be published soon in the scientific journal IEEE Access.

"What happens is that Facebook wants to" sell "us as a user to the largest number of advertisers and that's why it adds more categories to users," he explains with reference to the discovery Magdalena Saldaa, an expert in digital and academic media at the Communication School of Catholic University . "Now Facebook keeps everything we do, because it uses it in one way or another, either for advertisers or for fine-tuning the algorithm that shows us the posts at the beginning.

But what are the risks of overprofilering?

"Malicious attackers can perform micro-controlled campaigns to attack certain communities or create more sophisticated things, such as a fake competition for people who like a mobile type, request data and get information that can be used for fraud," explains Cuevas.

And clarify: "Facebook is entitled to notice users for publicity, but we see that such a profile avoids that goal, and that many of the assigned interests lend to make conclusions about the lives of people they may not be interested in reveal. "

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