Facebook's unintentionally hilarious feature tries to guess your interests

Facebook's unintentionally hilarious feature tries to guess your interests
Photo credit: File

I've discovered an unintentionally hilarious feature hiding away on my Facebook page.

It's a feature that attempted to predict my interests and hobbies based on what I click on.

The 'your ad preferences' section provides a list of interests Facebook provides to advertisers, to tailor ads to your taste.

By following this link, and opening the 'interests' section, you'll see a categorised list of what Facebook thinks you're into.

Facebook's unintentionally hilarious feature tries to guess your interests
Photo credit: Facebook

After learning this I checked out my own - and it turns out Facebook thought I had noteworthy interest in chicken, buttocks, dehydration, training bras and the ghetto, amongst other things.

While now I finally understand why I'm sometimes getting NSFW ads appearing on my newsfeed, it still left me with some unanswered questions.

So I did some digging - and here's how it works.

The first component Facebook considers is a user's activity and settings. Logged information including my age, gender, hometown and current location help to build a picture of the types of posts I might be interested in seeing.

Facebook also considers pages or groups myself and my friends have 'liked', the hashtags I use or the locations I tag in my posts.

Every link I click on also contributes. Every time I tap my mouse, Facebook is learning more about me. This also includes use of related services, such as Instagram, which are owned by Facebook.

But information-sharing extends past the services which Facebook directly owns. When I share details like my phone number or email address with a business, they may add it to a customer list that can be matched to back to my Facebook profile.

Sources of this information may include loyalty programs (a 'club card' at your local supermarket, for example), information compiled by data providers and purchases at retail stores.

A website may choose to install a 'Facebook pixel' to help the social media platform collect data about their audience.

It means advertisers can show ads to people who have recently viewed their page or specific products before.

For example, while shopping at an online store I added a few items to my cart. While I didn't complete the purchase, the website had a Facebook pixel installed.

Facebook took note. Thumbnails of those exact t-shirts later appeared on my newsfeed.

If, like me, some of the ads you're seeing aren't quite for you and you don't know why - there's a 'remove interest' button in your settings. You'll find it alongside the categories in your logged interests.

Some of my Facebook-predicted 'interests', which I've now removed.
Some of my Facebook-predicted 'interests', which I've now removed. Photo credit: Facebook

Your ad preferences can provide fascinating insight into how advertisers use social media apps, and what they think of you. It might even tell you a little more about yourself (come to think of it, I do really like chicken).

Or at the very least - if you're anything like us - it'll give you a bit of a laugh in the office.


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