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How to find out how much Facebook thinks it knows about you

Hanna Kozlowska
By Hanna Kozlowska

Investigative reporter

Most US Facebook users don’t know that they can check how the social network categorizes them in order to show them targeted ads, a new survey from the Pew Research Center released today (Jan. 16) shows. These categories can be anything from whether you use wi-fi to your political preferences to how old your toddler is.

While most users find the categories accurate, and about half are not comfortable with the company creating such a list.

Facebook has gotten into hot water for their categorization system, which ProPublica proved, for example, allowed advertisers to discriminate against African-American users. To assess whether you’re comfortable with how much Facebook knows about your life and how it categorizes you, follow these steps (screenshots are for the desktop version of the site):

Go to Settings

Screenshot/Facebook

Click “Ads”

Screenshot/Facebook

Go to “Your information”

Screenshot/Facebook

The first section shows you your interests based on your behaviors on Facebook (for example, liking a page), and the second shows you the advertisers whose ads have been displayed in your feed (because, for example, you’ve visited their page). You can delete any of these. The second tab in the “Your Information” section, will show you how Facebook has chosen to categorize you. It can look like this:

Screenshot/Facebook

But about one-third of users surveyed by Pew had between 10 and 20 categories, and 38% had more than 21 of them. The page can also look like this:

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