Ever get the feeling someone’s watching you?

Lifestyle

SOCIAL MEDIA

Ever get the feeling someone’s watching you?

Facebook ads will soon be able to target you based on your religious or political beliefs

Margi Murphy

Facebook will soon allow advertisers to target users based on their religious or political views.
The changes will allow businesses to target – or block – groups of individuals based on the faith or sexuality they identify with in their profile, along with posts they have liked and groups they are members of.
The move could raise concerns that radical groups may be able to pay to target certain political groups with recruitment propaganda, perpetuating extremism on the website. But a Facebook spokesman said it had policies in place to remove any advertising that appeared to be maliciously profiling certain people.
A small number of users will be prompted to check their information and will be advised that it could be used to target them with advertising. Only those who agree will be shown relevant marketing, like Christian dating apps, for example.The trial is part of a wider data privacy cleanup that will particularly affect Facebook, along with companies like Google and marketing businesses.
Facebook has previously made presumptions about people’s interests based on posts they like, but in the EU and UK was not permitted to use information uploaded to their profile to target them with relevant services or adverts. 
The company has been able to target its American audience like this thanks to more lenient data protection rules in the US. But it garnered controversy when it emerged that Russians had been able to pay for anti-Democratic propaganda during the runup to the 2016 presidential election.
The practice has also been criticised by human rights activists. Undercover reporters at investigative website ProPublica last year revealed that Facebook could easily be gamed to racially discriminate. In one example journalists pretending to be a rental company were able to block certain ethnicities from seeing their adverts. Facebook later apologised.“Our existing ad policies prevent people from targeting ads which  discriminate against others,” a Facebook spokesperson said.  “If we find an ad in violation of our policies we will disapprove the ad and send messaging to the advertiser warning them of the violation. If we see egregious, malicious, or repeated violations of our policies, we will typically move to permanently ban the advertiser from running ads.”
The social network said it will also bring facial recognition technology to its European users as part of the trial. Around 1% of its two billion audience will be given the option to start using the photo detection tool, which helps in tagging photos and can spot identity theft.
To do this, algorithms analyse the pixels in photos that a person is already tagged in and generate a string of numbers called a template. When photos and videos are uploaded to Facebook’s systems, it compares those images to the template.  Although impressive, the technology  was not used in the EU because of a ban on processing of an individual’s sensitive personal data without their explicit permission. By asking for explicit permission, Facebook can lawfully collect this information.
Sherman is working to make sure the company, which controls the data of billions of its users, can prove that it has gathered explicit permission from everyone it makes money from their data on.
“We have taken very seriously the privacy concerns we have heard around facial recognition, but we think it is important to use technology that is valuable to people. We want to help enable beneficial uses [of facial recognition technology] while safeguarding against others,” he said.“We think that putting people in control of this and being clear with people about technology, and people’s choices, is an important part of this.”
Last month chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg announced a new privacy control portal that would help people better understand how their information is being used.
 The Daily Telegraph

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.

Next Article

OH, THE AGONY: I think the guy I like is a cheat

By Yolisa Mkele and Nina Hastie
1 min read