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Thursday, 17 January 2019 05:37

Most Facebook users unaware site keeps list of their interests

Most Facebook users unaware site keeps list of their interests Pixabay

Nearly three-fourths of Facebook users studied in a survey by the Pew Research Centre were unaware that the site was maintaining a list of their interests, and 51% were not comfortable with being categorised.

The survey covered 963 nationally representative American adult users of the social media site and was conducted between 4 September and 1 October last year.

In a blog post detailing the study, Pew said users could see how the site had categorised their interests by visiting the "Your ad preferences" page.

Eighty-nine percent of the users were unaware that this list was being created by the algorithm used by Facebook.

While 59% said the categorisation reflected their interests, 27% said it was not accurate in its description.

Additionally, Facebook also assigns a political affinity to slightly more than half (51%) of its users. In the Pew survey, 73% of those assigned such an affinity conceded that it was either very accurate or somewhat correct.

"Put differently, 37% of Facebook users are both assigned a political affinity and say that affinity describes them well, while 14% are both assigned a category and say it does not represent them accurately," Pew wrote.

For some users, Facebook also listed a category known as multicultural affinity, outlining a user's affinity with different racial and ethnic groups, rather than assign them to groups that reflected their actual race or ethnic background.

A second survey, conducted between 29 May and 11 June last year, and covering all US adults who use social media, found that they believe the platforms they use will easily be able to to determine key traits about them based on the data they had provided.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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