Facebook Labels Users Conservative or Liberal

John Lister's picture

Facebook users in the US may be able to find out if the site thinks they are conservative- or liberal-leaning. It's a side-effect of a new tool that makes it easier to influence advertisements which appear on the users' newsfeed.

As reported recently, Facebook recently added new options which allow users to indicate that they don't want to see advertisements in the news feed related to specific topics. The new changes come as Facebook also prepares to roll out additional measures to prevent ad-blocking software from working on the site.

To view the settings, users can visit their Facebook preferences page, logging into their account if needed. They'll then see two sections: one on "interests" that Facebook believes are relevant to the user, and one listing specific to advertisers that already have the user's contact details - for example, from an emailing list. (Source: recode.net)

Hovering over each entry lets the user click on the "X" to delete this interest or on a "!" to report a problem with the category, such as it being misspelled or being ambiguous. Deleting an interest doesn't guarantee blocking advertisements on that topic, but should make them less likely to appear.

US Politics "Interest" Carries Label

One of the more notable entries is for "US Politics", accessible for many (if not most) US users by choosing the "Lifestyle and culture" subsection and, if necessary, selecting "more" to see the full list. There will then be a label in parentheses dubbing the user as conservative, liberal or moderate.

The New York Times notes that some political candidates are already using this category to target ads, in some cases alongside factors such as location and demographics. Savvier candidates may produce different ads for different groups, such as one designed to reinforce and strengthen the views of existing supporters, or to reach out persuasively to moderates. (Source: nytimes.com)

Labeling Not An Exact Science

It's only possible to delete the political interest listing on the advertising page, but not to alter it. However this doesn't affect the user's stated political position on their profile, if they've chosen to add one.

It appears the process of figuring out the user's political leanings can be complex. It doesn't just rely on explicit user activity such as "liking" a page for a candidate, but instead takes into account whether the users more general tastes such as "liking" pages for products or stores strongly matches the patterns among conservatives, moderates or liberals.

What's Your Opinion?

Does your advertising preferences page show your supposed political leaning, and if so, is it accurate? Is it reasonable for Facebook to make such assumptions about users? Should users be able to completely block any advertising from candidates or political parties?

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ecash's picture

Try this..

This Im not sure of..but has info..

Labels are just a quick way to generalize people..
the FEWER points you use, the worse it gets.
The MORE points you use, can REALLY get complicated and require people to KNOW something about the different sectors..

Black, Jewish, Orthodox, Liberal, Nigerian...
Says allot about someone, but require you to KNOW something about Each part.

The other thing to know is WORDS CHANGE...
Liberal MEANT open minded and Future thinking.. but it DEPENDS on which side you are on, and HOW this/THAT or the other group defines it/you/them..

This is like the computer market, They are liberal in giving advancements and changes, but it will COST YOU..


it also depends on WHO you are talking about..
Corporations are Conservative, because they DONT LIKE change, or many advancements..

It my conclusion that MANY used big/misbegotten words to confuse things, and confuse the audience. When they start doing it, its as if, they have run out of things to say or EXPLAIN..

ecash's picture

Smart enough to not debate politics?? This isnt Politics.
This is a SITE trying to Pigeon hole you into a selection to adverts and Propaganda..
I like to view everything..See who is saying what..and HOW.
Its always entertaining to see the comments/.../...(you can guess those other 2)

The point is..
The election ISNT NOW..
\we are STILL trying to select the best idiot for the job..
Anything they say/do/...(fill in that blank also) IS BAIT..to be discussed and ranted about. TRUTH or LIE, Fantasy or FACT..
The problem I have is the OTHER 1000 candidates are NOT represented..
There is NOTHING fair or balances..
NEWS agencies have already chosen sides..(news is supposed to be Cheap and simple)
They arnt even running STATE listed candidates..