Home Facebook Wants You to Know How its Ads Work

Facebook Wants You to Know How its Ads Work

When advertisements first started appearing on Facebook, the most popular online social network in the world, users immediately recognized advertisements targeted at them based on their personal information and interests. Those unfamiliar with online advertising were quick to assume that advertisers were privy to personal user information and could use that data to specifically target ads, but advertisers actually have no access to any user data, in reality. With the recent dust-ups over privacy at Facebook, advertising is again a touchy topic, and the site is taking some steps to educate its users.

In a post on the official Facebook blog today, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg explains the process through which advertisers target ads to various audiences on Facebook. As she points out, actual user data is never exposed to advertisers, as they simply enter in keywords for topics, locations and other criteria for their ads.

“We never share your personal information with advertisers. We never sell your personal information to anyone,” says Sandberg. “Because our system chooses which ads to show you, we don’t need to share any of your personal information with advertisers in order to show you relevant ads.”

The only data shown to advertisers is anonymous aggregated data that provides them with a gauge on how affective their ads have been. The process is summed nicely in a video (above) produced to accompany Sandberg’s post.

It is interesting to see Facebook start to take a more official approach to dispelling rumors and misconceptions about its service. The company also recently blogged explaining how its spam prevention systems work, but personally I would like to see important messages like these promoted more aggressively on the homepage. The average Facebook user doesn’t read the official Facebook blog, so an embedded link at the top of the news feed (where Facebook will commonly announce coming changes and new features) would reach a much broader audience.

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