Study: People Really Don’t Like It When Facebook Tracks Them

It’s pretty much common sense that no one likes having their privacy violated. However, the world of social media is a little murkier; after all, most of us continue using Facebook even though we know we give up our data to do so. But a new study out this week revealed that many users really aren’t cool with Facebook tracking their behavior around the web. At all.

The research, conducted at Harvard Business School, studied what would happen if a company revealed to users how they’ve been targeted for online advertising. Overwhelmingly, the users who were told that they were seeing ads because of their activity on another website became less interested in buying the product. It might seem obvious, but it turns out knowing that a company is watching you makes you less likely to go along with its suggestions.

“Ad transparency reduced ad effectiveness when it revealed cross-website tracking — an information flow that consumers deem unacceptable,” the study read. “Ad transparency that revealed unacceptable information flows heightened concern for privacy over interest in personalization, reducing ad effectiveness.”

Of course, this study also answers the question of why Facebook isn’t more transparent with users: the social media giant knows people probably won’t like what they’ll hear.