All of the third-party companies that collect data from Facebook are being pushed away by the social media company through limited dealings with them.
As tool that allows advertisers to target Facebook users with the usage of data garnered from outside sources and data brokers would be shut down the company, it announced on Wednesday. Users would be allowed greater privacy on Facebook by the gradual closure of the tool over the next six months said the embattled company.
Following the revelation that private information of about 50 million Facebook users were gathered by a London based consultancy form Cambridge Analytica and used in the U.S. presidential elections in favor of Donald Trump, the social media platform has faced severe criticisms and it is now in damage control mode. The data was gathered by Cambridge Analytica form an outside source.
Advertisers makes use of additional information garnered by data collection firms to target highly specific groups of people on Facebook with the use of a tool Partner Categories.
The information about an individual purchasing a coffee machine at a brick-and-mortar store could become available to a data broker from the records left from swiping a loyalty card at the store. The man can then be easily put into a category when that data is coupled with data from his Facebook page – male, aged 30-49, coffee drinker, lives in Seattle. Using this information, the man can be made a target of advertisement on Facebook for espresso beans placed by a Seattle roaster. This is possible because the roasted bean selling firm would have purchased a narrowly targeted ad campaign on Facebook through the Partner Categories tool which is aimed at men in their 30s in Seattle who are into coffee.
Thi8s can be considered to be intrusive or manipulative by many.
“While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook,” Graham Mudd, a product marketing director at the company, said in a post about ending the Partner Categories operation.
Facebook’s website says that Acxiom, Epsilon, Oracle’s Data Cloud and WPP are the data brokers that the company works with.
There was a fall of 10 per cent in the shares of shares of Acxiom – which is the largest firm dealing with data collection in the U.S., following the announcement by Facebook.
She welcomed Facebook’s decision, said UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham in a statement.
“I have been examining this service in the context of my wider investigation into the use of personal data for political purposes and had raised it with Facebook as a significant area of concern,” she said.
This move by Facebook is the latest in its efforts to better its privacy policies.
Announcement of measures that would allow better control of their privacy by the users was made on Wednesday.
Concerns arising out of the methods used by Facebook to handle private data led some to delete their Facebook accounts.
Earlie in the week, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg openly apologized for the data scandal through extensive newspaper ads. He has described it as “a breach of trust” and promised “to do better.”
(Adapted from Money.CNN.com)