Facebook recently announced that they are disabling a form of advertisement targeting called partner categories, which allowed well-known third-party data collectors such as Experian and Acxiom to provide clients with offline data like buying-related activity to inform ad targeting. The move comes in the middle of the results from the Cambridge a data privacy, and it follows almost the same moves from the social network to stop violent and cruel ad practices. Those include a pause on third-party app approval announced today and new limits forced on the volume and type of data third-party apps are given through APIs like Facebook Login announced last week.
As pointed out by Recode, Partner Categories is not what allowed Cambridge a to access as many as 50 million Facebook profiles. The data mining firm was given that data from a third-party app developer in violation of Facebook‘s terms of service and without user permission. Rather, data aggregators can add to/addition companies with data they may not otherwise have, allowing marketers and Facebook itself to work together to better target users.
For instance, a company like Pepsi can advertise on Facebook using information gathered fromFacebook profiles, the information it owns like email addresses and information it buys from data aggregators like Experian, which gathers together buying history and other valuable information. As part of Partner Categories, Facebook shares money/money income with companies like Experian that help inform its data set every time a marketer ad space on Facebook using that data. While this is not an basically and most violent and cruel practice, Facebook clearly views its existence as a possible threat in the waiting, and the company is taking every measure it can right now to fight off future privacy violations and PR disasters like the Cambridge one.
“We want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down Partner Categories. This product enables third party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook,” reads the short three-sentence post published unattributed to the company‘s Newsroom. “While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people‘s privacy on Facebook.”