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?

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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5 Games To Play In School That They Never Block

You used to play these games in school, and so did everyone you know.

Even though some games were blocked on the school's internet, these games were not (for most people) and we used it to our full advantage. Also, one of the pictures on this article will take you to the actual game itself, it is up to you to find it. Good Luck!

1. Poptropica

This game was always so fun but 99% of the time I would only play on spy island.


This is the source of misbehavior in schools because this game was so aggravating.

3. playretrogames

This entire website was never blocked so it was constantly being played on the computer.

4. CoolMath

Again, an entire gaming website that was never blocked and had what was honestly some really fun casual games.

5. The Impossible Quiz


If you are kids are in school and looking for some fun during the day, these websites are almost never blocked by the school's wifi. (Just don't get caught). I hope you enjoyed this article and if you did please feel free to follow myself and the Anderson Universtiy page and I will see you all next time, bye!

Cover Image Credit: Rico Tec Solution

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Media Literacy Is Crucial In 2018

Among the world of "fake news" and unrestricted publishing platforms, media literacy is more than just important – it's crucial.


No concept is more relevant in modern-day news media than the concept of "fake news." While it was originally coined by President Trump referring to a number of liberal media organizations, the term has now been adopted by many Americans when speaking about the phenomenon of factually inaccurate or falsely skewed articles, broadcasts, or any other form of news information.

As a journalism major, the threat of fake news and other challenges to the free press are given as warnings quite frequently. It's a concept my classmates and I are constantly on the lookout for in every piece of news disseminated, whether it comes from CNN, Fox News, Buzzfeed or anywhere else. However, I've learned that others not affiliated or familiar with the press aren't as concerned about fake news – or even just dishonest news – as we are. And that ignorance can pose a huge risk.

Take, for example, "Pizzagate." A series of absolutely fabricated stories in 2016 claimed the Clintons were housing a child sex trafficking/pedophilia ring in the basement of a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant, causing a man to barge in the restaurant and fire gunshots to save the made-up victims. No one was hurt in his "raid," but the debacle proved that the dissemination of fake news has real consequences.

Illiterate media skills can not only instigate crimes and violent acts such as the ones mentioned above, but they also disadvantage citizens on a much more personal level, too. Most people don't even stop and question whether their source of news/information is credible, much less accurate – they just see a compelling headline or one that supports their beliefs and they hit share, risking spreading false facts, inaccurate information, and skewed biases around their community. The information produced by news media organizations on television, print, and online all plays a drastic part in how someone shapes their worldview, personal beliefs, political opinions, and even more.

Advances in technology have made it so basically anyone can produce media and disseminate it to the public, regardless of whether the information is true or false and what ulterior motives they might have. This means that that article you shared on Facebook last week could come from anybody – not someone who's an expert in the subject discussed or a real reporter. Just your average "Joe Schmo" could be telling you about the government, public issues, or foreign affairs. That person can make up an entire story, event, quote, or belief for any reason at all.

Developing media literacy skills goes further than dispelling fake news – it helps people critically think and analyze stories, helps them express their own opinions, and satisfies everyone's civic responsibility to make well-informed, well-represented decisions. (Not to mention, it also saves us from the embarrassment of sharing an article/piece of information only to have someone comment that it's not true.)

So do all journalists a favor and stop to think after you read an article before you share or comment. Make sure you're being informed by an objective, credible source. Confirm that the news presented is of factual basis, not just of someone's opinion or retelling. Think about that source's intent or purpose behind sharing the particular piece of news. Try and realize the source's and your own point of view in relation to the story. Asking yourself these questions when analyzing pieces of media reassures that you're not being swayed or fooled by "fake news" and prevents your community from being affected, too.

Don't be afraid to fact-check what others tell you or content shared by your friends online. I'm proud to admit that I have been that annoying individual to comment and let someone know that what they've shared is fake, or at least inaccurate.

The role of news media in society is to empower the informed through accurate, fair, and responsible reporting that is free from commercial or government censorship. Many refer to journalism as the "voice for the voiceless" that has a duty to express all aspects of our society and make sure citizens are aware of their rights.

"Fake news" is a major threat to the media's responsibility to the public. Any form of dishonest reporting, whether it's falsifying facts or quotes, intentionally leaving out a side of the story, or publishing information with an ulterior motive or agenda – ALL of this poses a great threat to not only the media but to every citizen as well. And in this day and age where anyone can produce content, true or false, it's more important than ever to learn how to critically consume the news. Media literacy is not just a good skill to have or important – it's crucial.

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