Today, advertisers on Facebook or Instagram have access to a wide choice of criteria to best target the people they want to send their ads to. So they can decide to present an ad only to men under 30 who live near Milan or only to fans of the series “The Paper House”. Among the criteria made available to these advertisers, Meta (the group that owns Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Oculus, and WhatsApp) also offers particularly private data.
This has been the case until nowsexual orientation, religious beliefs, health information, skin color or political opinions† If Facebook itself does not have direct access to its users’ medical records or their sexual orientation, certain pages or content appreciated on the social network have allowed the algorithm to develop this information. For example, this is the case with a user interacting with the “World Diabetes Day”with the page “LGBT culture” or who followed the profile of a political figure.
Meta finally announced in a blog post on Tuesday that this data will no longer be made available to advertisers, so they can’t accurately target users due to their health conditions, religion, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. These new measures will come into effect on January 19. “We want to better adapt to the evolving expectations of advertisers who want to interact with them on our platforms and respond to questions from civil rights experts, lawmakers and activists about the importance of preventing advertisers from abusing the targeting options we offer”says Meta.
This response from Meta comes long after several controversies over the social network’s ability to discriminate against users based on their privacy: “We’ve heard concerns from some experts that targeting options like this could be introduced.” To reassure advertisers who want to target their ads to the people most likely to be interested, Meta still offers certain personal criteria such as age, gender, or location.
When asked by the Mashable site, a Meta spokesperson confirmed that these new advertiser rules apply not only to Facebook, but also to Instagram or Messenger.