Have you ever wondered which Facebook advertisers bought your data? A transparency tool gives some insight (via Buzzfeed News).
Log into Facebook and go into Settings > Ads > Ad Preferences. You’ll see a section that lists advertisers that use a contact list they or their partner uploaded that includes information about you. Mine has a lot of automotive advertisers despite not owning a vehicle.
This gives the stark realization that there are a lot of companies that have your email address and/or phone number and/or other information. It’s a long list of “traditional ad targeting, influencers and sponsored content, and advertisers on Facebook who leverage personal data from the giant data brokers.” Buzzfeed breaks the brands down into categories:
- Places where you’re a customer
- Sponsored influencers posting ads for companies that have your email address
- Businesses that pay data brokers to get access to you
The majority of it seems to come from huge data brokers, which is why you’ll see advertisers on there from other states, or for things you have no interest in. The text “they or their partner uploaded” is key. Data brokers represent a fire hose of indiscriminate data.
Facebook is aware this page is confusing, and told BuzzFeed News it intends to fix it in the near future. It is currently working on new ideas about how the page should look — perhaps bundling all the advertisers who use the same data broker together, for example, and separating advertisers with first-party data.
Facebook does provide a bit of transparency. Aside from this list, when you see an ad on Facebook you can tap a “Why am I seeing this ad?” button. You’ll see reasons like “Partner uploaded a hashed customer list. Facebook matched your email with information on that list.”