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Facebook’s Targeting System Can Divide Us on More Than Just Advertising


Facebook’s Targeting System Can Divide Us on More Than Just Advertising

Rachel Goodman

It’s heartening to see, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica revelations, growing skepticism about how Facebook handles data and data privacy. But we should take this opportunity to ask the bigger, harder questions, too — questions about discrimination and division, and whether we want to live in a society where our consumer data profile determines our reality.


Make Facebook pay for their Oligarchal misuse of your private information.

Be complete and just Delete.


Yes. That has been clear for some time. This “targeting” is really just a self-spiraling feedback mechanism. The “inefficiencies” of the old newspaper general circulation stories and ads were very efficient in terms of producing democratic and cooperative governing and society.
Some of the latest polls have shown how far we have gone from living with each other in peace. One figure that really caught my eye was that some years ago (10?) the number of people who would not want their child dating (or was it marrying?) someone on the other side of the left/right divide at around 5% or so. Today that went to something like 45% or so. The percent was higher on the right-wing side but both left and right carried a very high difference from the previous count. That, I would think, takes us into internecine hatreds of the type we unleashed in Iraq and other places.
The basic idea behind targeting may be flawed in any case. I don’t know of good data which really proves that targeted ads provide a real advantage in sales for most products as opposed to general-focus ads. It also prevents the “non-targeted” persons from knowing your product exists and is something they may want.
Then there is the spin out on large scale which we are seeing which becomes evil when it causes so much absolutist hatred.


Sounds like if we had a Justice Dept., we wouldn’t have Facebook.
According to Julian Assange, you’re data was sold, not stolen.


I’ll go at this from another angle as well. Purely in terms of merchandising. Some of us are old enough to remember getting “mail-order” catalogs which we perused intently. I was interested in electronics and had catalogs from Radio Shack, Allied, Lafayette and other firms as well as the ubiquitous Sears catalogs.
Reading these catalogs was always illuminating and always introduced me to items I didn’t know existed and for which I would never have gone looking. In a way they were like encyclopedias of merchandise. I loved those old catalogs.
Today’s search and suggestions are a far cry from the catalogs.Time and again I will purchase some item either online or in a store and then get tons of notices for the same item claiming that my original purchase indicates I would be interested in this.
The other is the “others bought similar items” offer. Well I don’t want the thing I bought again, because I have it now. If I really want another one I’ll get it on my own, thank you. I also don’t want the similar items. Same reasons.
These “efficient” targeted ads are anything but efficient as far as I’m concerned. The old catalogs that I could look at in my leisure were far better at wetting my desire to buy items I’d never heard of before.


It not only can divide us, it is dividing us!

That is by design.


Good points all! In my opinion, the old Sears catalogs were very democratic, even egalitarian, in the sense that everyone got the same book.

I think Sears made a huge mistake in pretty much abandoning that key part of their business strategy.