What Your Facebook Ads Tell You About What They Actually Know About You

What Your Facebook Ads Tell You About What They Actually Know About You

Have you ever wondered why Facebook ads seem to always know what you've been doing?
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The fact that Facebook always seems to know what ads to show me has creeped me out for a little while now. Today, my interest was peaked further when a classmate told me that Facebook can listen to you. I've decided that I need to find some answers for myself and you all about what Facebook is actually using to help advertisers learn about (stalk) us.

The first thing I discovered, which I suppose should have been obvious, is that Facebook isn't just Facebook. Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp. According to their website, they use your interests indicated on these sites to tailor ads to you. This wasn't so creepy. I assumed that what I put on my profile or liked on Facebook would be used for this purpose.

Things start getting a little more interesting when looking into what is called a Facebook pixel. Essentially, advertisers can add pixels to their web pages' codes that help track consumer behavior and engagement online. It then matches interests with ads to show on Facebook. If you've downloaded an app, made a purchase, or even just viewed the webpage, they know. Facebook allows the advertiser to tailor who gets more attention for some products based on things like age and location (yeah, they track you through your GPS or IP address).

What sort of things does Facebook take from your clicks and uploads to build a profile of you for advertisers? I'll use my own Facebook as an example. Facebook indicates that it uses my relationship status, knows what kind of phone and computer I use (and their operating systems), keeps track of what apps I install on my phone, and found out I live in a "housemate-based household." If you click on an ad or page that has a similar audience to another company's, you may start seeing more ads from that second similar company as well.

As for the rumors about Facebook listening to us, it does seem to be false. Facebook released a statement on their blog stating that the app can access the microphone, but it does not listen to your conversations to target advertising. Instead, the microphone aspect is necessary for certain features like audio in Messenger.

To be fair, Facebook is transparent about these issues on the site. If you go to your settings, you can find all sorts of information about what Facebook is taking from your internet usage. You can also adjust various ad settings. For example, you can hide ads on a particular topic, such as alcohol. You may remove certain companies that Facebook has determined interest you. Even for fun, you should go on to see what it "thinks" of you. I enjoyed learning that 60 percent of my hobbies section included puppies (French bulldog specifically) and kittens. They are nothing if not thorough, because it also knows I have car insurance with State Farm, eat my heart out at Chipotle, and engage in a little retail therapy at Nordstrom.

Cover Image Credit: Larissa Hamblin

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Creating Character

How World Of Warcraft Made Me Who I Am Today
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During 2004, there was a revolution. Not a revolution of countries, nor a revolution in any political standpoint, but a gaming revolution. A new genre of gaming was introduced that would revolutionize the world as we know it. This genre was the MMORPG, or massively multiplayer online role playing game, and the game that revamped and revolutionized the gaming industry is the World of Warcraft. Published in 2004, millions of people jumped on to play the game that supposedly sucked you in and caused major addictions. The game brandished millions of subscribers, causing the game to get major public attention.

For years, the game has been associated with no life people, who never leave their homes because they are too busy playing the game. And for many years, this was my opinion of the game, as I was warped by the media into believing it was a horrible drug-like epidemic. And eventually, I gave in to the temptation and began to play what would become one of my favorite games of all time.

During High School, I struggled with finding an identity, and failed to fit in with any crowd. Due to this isolation, I turned to the most controversial game that I could think of: A game where I could lose myself and become something different. I was no longer the lonely teenager, but Vindicite, the Blood Elf Death Knight, harbinger of destruction and Kingslayer. I became someone more confident, and more headstrong in getting what he desired.

The funny thing is, if you emulate someone or something long enough, you eventually develop the qualities of it. In this case, my characters and their personalities that I placed on them became part of myself. I started going out more, hanging out with decent charisma. I applied for jobs, and eventually found myself in a happy environment with a much better view on life. It seems that the media was lying, as their warnings had no effect on me, and my life and social life became much better.

Eventually my fascination with the game led me to writing my own stories, and eventually it inspired my own involvement in a local Dungeons & Dragons group that allowed me to further develop my own personality, and evenutllay decide that I wanted to pursue an English degree at Marshall University, where I am currently a senior. My life was changed the day I started to play World of Warcraft, and while I could be classified as a 'WoW Addict,' I have become who I am due to the creation of myself through it. In a way, I grew up with the game, and we are both going strong after all these years.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Soumil Kumar from Pexels

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10 Must Read Subreddits

Reddit.com is a great place for people to come together to exchange knowledge (and memes!)
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Reddit.com is a place for people to come together online through discussion forums. Users can make an account to subscribe to their favorite subreddits and "upvote" and "down-vote" on their favorite posts and comments. There's a subreddit for everyone and for everything, so if you don't find something on this list that you like (or on reddit.com) you can create your own!

1. AskReddit

On /r/AskReddit you can ask anything that you'd like, and answer anything that you have knowledge in.

2. todayilearned

On /r/todayilearned people submit cool, interesting, facts that are usually backed up by evidence whether it's through articles or other sources.

3. Showerthoughts

On /r/Showerthoughts, people post random deep thoughts that they have. It's interesting to read them because they make you think.

4. explainlikeimfive

Ask a complicated question, get a simple answer.

5. WritingPrompts

Post a writing prompt that you'd be interested in reading an answer to, or answer writing prompts and let your creativity flow!

6. IAmA

This is a subreddit in which you can request for well-known celebrities (People such as Bill Gates and Barack Obama have participated before) or people that are of general interest to you to answer questions. They also must have proof that they are who they say they are.

7. Science

Everyday users submit interesting scientific articles and studies that are open for discussion among users.

8. Technology

The technology subreddit is helpful because it helps to understand how the human race is handling technology as it continues to evolve.

9. Dankmemes

This one is a little self-explanatory.

10. aww

Where the cutest of all animals, babies, and heart-warming moments thrive.

Cover Image Credit: evablue / Flickr

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