“When Facebook introduced its ad platform in 2007, advertisers could target people using information they had volunteered on the platform,” Keith Collins and Larry Buchanan report for The New York Times. “In 2009, Facebook added several features, including the ability for users to click a “like” button on posts in their newsfeed, which refined the list of interests that advertisers could target. The company also introduced ways for advertisers to target friends of those who had interacted with their brands, and to target ads to people by age or birthday.”

“Three years later, Facebook introduced Custom Audiences, a feature that allowed companies to upload their own lists of people to target. A retailer, for example, could upload its customer list and target ads at those who had recently bought a specific kind of T-shirt,” Collins and Buchanan report. “Of course, companies were not limited to using lists of their own customers. They could also upload lists of consumers bought from the third-party marketing firms known as data brokers.”

“Around 2014, Facebook’s ad program began to evolve dramatically, allowing advertisers to pinpoint people even more precisely than before,” Collins and Buchanan report. “One new feature, Partner Categories, brought hundreds of targeting options from data brokers into Facebook’s ad platform. Brands could now target people based on demographics like salary; number of open credit lines; car make and model; and whether a user fit into a category such as ‘trendy moms.'”

“In mid-2014, Facebook incorporated users’ online browsing history into its ad-targeting platform,” Collins and Buchanan report. “Around this time, Facebook also added a targeting option called Ethnic Affinity. The company does not ask users to identify their race, but it assigns ethnicities based on activities such as the content and pages that users like.”

Much more in the full article – highly recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Instant messages sent by Mark Zuckerberg during Facebook’s early days, reported by Business Insider, May 13, 2010:

Zuckerberg: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuckerberg: Just ask
Zuckerberg: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?
Zuckerberg: People just submitted it.
Zuckerberg: I don’t know why.
Zuckerberg: They “trust me”
Zuckerberg: Dumb fucks

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