Even though this is an election year, it may still come as a shock to find out that Facebook has so much personal information on people that they are able to accurately predict whether a person is on the right or left side of politics. Yes, Facebook is reportedly able to determine if a person is a liberal, moderate or conservative based on the piles of personal data they have on people.
Even people who are secretive about their political views online can be categorized by Facebook’s predictive algorithms and large data set of personal information.
People who haven’t specifically shown which political party that they identify with can be categorized through their other activities on Facebook, such as what topics or pages they visit and like. Not surprisingly, people who visit and like liberal topics and pages on Facebook are more likely to lean left; while people who visit and like more conservative topics and pages will be categorized on the right.
In addition to political beliefs, Facebook keeps tabs on other things and activities that people are interested in, including: culture, music, hobbies etc.
Of course all of this personal information and predictions about people isn’t worth much if Facebook can’t make money off of it. To that end, this data is used for Facebook’s targeted advertising program. People can see some of the things that Facebook has predicted about them and their interests by visiting the public preferences page at: https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences and choosing which categories they want to view to see what Facebook knows about them.
For instance, if you want to see how Facebook categorizes your political leanings, just click on the “Lifestyle and Culture” option and choose “US Politics” to see if Facebook thinks you are a liberal, conservative or moderate. Also, Facebook gives people the option to edit or delete the predictions that the social media company has made about them.
The information that Facebook reveals to people in their advertising preferences tool is probably just a cosmetic attempt at public transparency. The real data and predictions that Facebook collects and makes will remain a closely guarded company secret, unless hackers or employees leak some secret corporate documents at some point.