Facebook today made an announcement that it would be disabling a subset of its advertising unit called “Partner Categories”, this unit enabled third-party data collectors like Acxicom & Experian to sell offline data of users’ like purchasing activity etc. that would help other businesses to target their ads. This action comes after the ongoing Cambridge Analytica crisis and Facebook is expected to carry out more such changes to secure its user base.
Although Partner Categories is not what allowed Cambridge Analytica to access 50 million Facebook profiles, it still possesses the potential to carry out such illicit operations. The data mining company was sacked on the basis that, it is in direct violation of Facebook’s privacy policies and is being conducted without the users’ permission.
For e.g., companies like Coca-Cola are able to target their advertisements on Facebook by using the data generated by Facebook profiles, information that it has collected like email addresses and through the data that it purchases from data collectors like Experian. Facebook shares its revenue with such data collecting companies, this adds data to Facebook’s database and they use this data to optimize whenever a company purchases ad space on Facebook.
While the above practice isn’t necessary illicit, Facebook is tightening all its loose ends to make its customers feel more valued, after the recent scandal.
“We want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down Partner Categories. This product enables third party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook. While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook”, Facebook said in a blog.