If you’ve ever seen an ad on Facebook that seemed creepily tailored to your interests, you know exactly what the company is doing with your data. That’s why data researcher Rebecca Ricks teamed up with two of her colleagues to create a new browser extension that lets Facebook users set their ad preferences in just a few clicks.
According to Ricks, she first realized how weird Facebook’s data practices were when the platform began displaying ads related to pregnancy. She hadn’t clicked on anything related to that topic, so she started to wonder how the company decided she would be a good target for these ads. That eventually led her to create Fuzzify, an extension that sits on top of Facebook’s own privacy controls and weeds out all the confusing information to make it easier to manage your settings.
“There’s an inherent power asymmetry on a platform like Facebook. Users have all this data collected about them, but no insight into how it’s being used,” Ricks said. “You as a Facebook user taking action to [deny] advertisers access to information is a political move.”
Facebook may be a free platform, but it comes with a steep hidden cost: our privacy and our information. Thankfully, third parties like Ricks have stepped in to help users reclaim some control over their digital lives.
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