Our world today may be a high-tech wonderland, but we, the users, own nothing in it, with our personal data being the new oil for Big Tech. How do we break its grip on our digital lives? We asked Richard Stallman, the founder and leader of the Free Software Movement.
A BuzzFeed journalist recently used a Facebook transparency tool to investigate the sort of companies utilizing her data for advertising, finding her personal data was “everywhere” with “no control.”
BuzzFeed News reporter Katie Notopoulos recently investigated the sort of personal details that advertisers collect on Facebook users, specifically the information collected on her. Notopoulos explained how she did this in the article, allowing Facebook users to check the sort of data that Facebook gives advertisers access to.
On Facebook under Settings, there’s a page in the Ads section where you can view your Ad Preferences. Most of this is fairly straightforward — choices about how you’ll allow ads and how advertisers target you based on things like what pages you’ve liked. But there’s one section there that will probably surprise you: a list of advertisers “Who use a contact list added to Facebook.”
Check yours out right now (I’ll wait, just try it). According to the description, “These advertisers are running ads using a contact list they or their partner uploaded that includes info about you. This info was collected by the advertiser or their partner. Typically this information is your email address or phone number.”
The list of Advertisers, a feature Facebook added for transparency, is incomprehensible to anyone who isn’t an expert in advertising (and even some who are!), and leads to the unsettling realization that, fuck, man, our data is out there and trafficked without our consent and being used by advertisers in ways we have no clue about.