How Facebook lets brands and politicians target users

“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

Facebook’s Zuckerberg was ready to slam Apple if Congress asked him about Tim Cook’s privacy comments – April 11, 2018
Apple co-founder Woz quits Facebook – April 9, 2018
Mark Zuckerberg admits Facebook scans the contents of all private Messenger texts – April 4, 2018
Facebook to warn 87 million users that their data ‘may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica’ – April 4, 2018
Mark Zuckerberg and the never-ending stench of Facebook – April 2, 2018
Apple may be the biggest winner from Facebook’s data scandal – April 2, 2018
Mark Zuckerberg blasts Apple CEO Cook’s criticism of Facebook as ‘extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth’ – April 2, 2018
Apple CEO Cook: Facebook should have self-regulated, but it’s too late for that now – March 28, 2018
U.S. FTC will investigate Facebook over privacy or lack thereof – March 26, 2018
Apple CEO Cook calls for more data oversight, ‘well-crafted regulation’ after Facebook debacle – March 26, 2018
Facebook has been collecting call history and SMS data from Android devices for years; Apple iOS devices unaffected – March 25, 2018
Apple CEO Cook ramps up pressure on Facebook, calls for more regulations on data privacy – March 24, 2018
Steve Jobs tried to warn Mark Zuckerberg about privacy in 2010 – March 23, 2018
Facebook has gotten too big, too powerful, too influential for Mark Zuckerberg to handle – March 23, 2018
How to block Facebook completely from your Mac – March 22, 2018
How Facebook made it impossible to delete Facebook – March 22, 2018
What to expect from Facebook’s Zuckerberg if he testifies before Congress – March 21, 2018
Why Facebook’s blatant disregard for users’ privacy could be very good for Apple – March 21, 2018
Facebook’s surveillance machine – March 21, 2018
Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg AWOL from Facebook’s damage control session – March 20, 2018
U.S. FTC reportedly probing Facebook’s abuse of personal data as UK summons Zuckerberg for questioning – March 20, 2018
The problem isn’t Cambridge Analytica: It’s Facebook – March 19, 2018
Apple: Privacy is a fundamental right – September 27, 2017


  1. We need good laws on the books to help protect innocent people from predation and espionage like this. It is disconcerting that this can happen. We need solid consumer protection laws against corporate predation.

    To protect people from Facebook, and Google, and Credit Card Companies, and Banks, and every other company out their that makes money harvesting Other People’s Data.

    1. Regulation is currently a dirty word in the playbooks of political conservatives and libertarians. I can’t imagine that changing anytime soon, — unless those very conservatives and libertarians are personally threatened by unregulated forces, like having their lives and fortunes overturned by hackers. Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs — a simple statement of human priorities — guarantees that. Personal survival is more fundamental than adherence to any group ideology, and when enough believers stop believing and enough followers defect, the ideology gets adjusted to stop the bleeding. There must be a million historical examples of this principle. But each and every elite group, who produce these ideologies only to protect their privileges, delude themselves they they can keep their rackets going, even with adjustments, as long as they live. When people catch on to their tricks, they tend to stop saluting and start throwing ropes over lamp-posts.

    2. George Lakoff of U Cal Berkeley talks about the importance of “framing” in language. Call something a “regulation”, and most people don’t want it …due to the “framing” implications of the word, alone. Call the same thing a “protection”, and most people think favorably of it.

      Look up his advice to Democrats to start paying more attention to how they frame issues if they wish to move their agenda forward, rather than being forever pilloried by antagonists …for being un-American !

      I actually thought about this when I wrote the original post. Seems to work. Just don’t call something a “regulation” if you don’t want to get into a pissing contest with …well, you know who.

      Let Freedom Ring ! And fair and reasonable protections for all !

  2. It is against the law for the government to use Psyops on the American people. It should also be illegal for third parties to do the same- left, right or center.
    What has been done via Facebook and other social media is nothing other than PsyOps and they did it because it works.

    Here is a quote from the GWU National Security Archive:
    “The U.S. government is legally prohibited from conflating these operations by targeting PSYOP activities–intended for foreign audiences–at the American public. 22 U.S.C. § 1461 (Smith-Mundt Act), which created the United States Information Agency (USIA) in 1948, directs that information about the United States and its policies intended for foreign audiences “shall not be disseminated within the United States, its territories, or possessions.” Amendments to the Smith-Mundt Act in 1972 and 1998 further clarified the legal obligations of the government’s public diplomacy apparatus and several presidential directives, including Reagan’s NSD-77 in 1983, Clinton’s PDD-68 in 1999, and Bush’s NSPD-16 in July 2002 (the latter two still classified), have set up specific structures and procedures, as well as further legal restrictions, regarding U.S. public diplomacy and information operations.”

    That is because PsyOps directed against the American people could impact our elections and the direction of our government. The explicit ban on our Government using such techniques within the US- it is legal to use outside- is for the protection of our democracy.

    1. However, I don’t agree with “…information about the United States and its policies intended for foreign audiences ‘shall not be disseminated within the United States'”.

      This seems to mean to keep Americans ignorant, right?

  3. Scumbag Congressional solution:

    Give commercil spy agencies like Google and FB franchises based on types of content rather than geographical region because physical boundaries are obsolete for corporations, not for individuals however.

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