How well does Facebook know their users? Sometimes, not very well

Posted by Liam Britten

The central premise of advertising on Facebook is well-known: users group themselves together based on their locations, tastes, jobs, passions, schools, and really just about anything else, allowing advertisers who buy Facebook space to effectively target potential customers of the future. Facebook provides this sort of information to advertisers to remain a competitive advertising medium — even if you want to keep that information secret.

Because users organizing themselves by things such as likes and groups means more opportunities for advertising revenue. That’s why Facebook recommends things for you to like in the sidebar of your newsfeed.

I didn’t bother “liking” a bunch of stuff on Facebook because... well, because I didn’t really want to bother. But in early September, when the NFL season was just starting, I decided to make my “like” of my favourite team, the Green Bay Packers, Facebook official. What can I say, I was pretty high on the team then — you know, before injuries decimated the organization.

But because I had never liked anything before, I was surprised to find Facebook’s suggestions waiting for me as soon as I liked something. I was even more surprised at how bizarre they were, and in some cases, things I would never like in a million years. Here are some of my favourites:

This first one is just... wrong. I can understand how Wisconsin folk might enjoy their county music, but Sarah Palin?! Come on, I thought you were cool, Wisconsin!

Again, just wrong. So wrong. It’s hard to say which of these I hate more, but if Jeff Dunham is on TV at the moment, then it’s him.

Now this one’s just contradictory. It’s like, “Which do I prefer more? Durable, ageless athleticism, or fried cheese?”

Now, I’m not sure exactly what “WISCONSIN has been out drinkin’ yo” means, but if there are any Brett Favre fans left in Wisconsin, I’m pretty that Wisconsin has indeed been out drinkin’. Yo.

The point of my little exercise is to show that Facebook is certainly far from perfect when it comes to analysing their users. After all, all the conservative-related suggestions that Facebook gave me would never have been sent to me if they looked at the “Political Views” portion of my profile.

I haven’t received any of these suggestions in a long time. Does anyone know if Facebook still does these? Also, do any Techvibes readers think that poor analyses like these should give advertisers pause when it comes to advertising with Facebook? Or are these just some unusual, funny screw-ups?

Company:
Facebook
Website:
http://www.facebook.com
Location:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet. more


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Liam Britten

Liam Britten

Liam Britten is a writer and editor with a journalism background operating out of Vancouver. In addition to his work at Techvibes, he has been published in student publications across Canada, as well as local newspapers such as The MapleRidge-Pitt Meadows TIMES and The Langley Advance. An aficionado for the finer things in life — such as video games and sports — Liam is plugged into the tech... more



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