It turns out that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has a way of identifying political leanings even if you don’t directly say anything about the subject on the world’s largest social network. Knowing or guessing your political orientation enables Facebook to serve relevant ads.
Ad preference page
If you log into your Facebook account and head to the ads preference page in settings, you can see what Facebook thinks about your political leanings. Once on the ad preference page, look for the “Interests” header and then click on the tab labeled “Lifestyle and Culture.” There you will see whether Facebook thinks of your political orientation as very conservative, very liberal, moderate, or libertarian.
How Facebook gets a hint of your political views
Facebook uses a number of ways to get your political leanings. The most obvious one is that the company’s algorithms look at the details you shared under political interest when you signed up for an account. If you indicated that you are liberal or conservative, then Facebook assumes that is what you are and will serve relevant political ads based on your leanings.
As long as your account is clearly labeled as conservative, liberal, moderate, or libertarian, it doesn’t matter to Facebook the kind of political engagement you are having on the platform.
Judging through your friends’ views
However, for those who have not clearly indicated their political interest, Facebook looks at their activities on the platform to judge whether they are very conservative, very liberal or very libertarian, or somewhere between the three groups.
When it comes to figuring your political leanings, Facebook also looks at the political pages you or your friends on the social network have liked. Keep in mind that even if you choose not to like any political page or post that could give away your political interest, Facebook will still use the details of your friends to categorize your political leanings. If you are not friends with people who share your politics, or are friends with all shades of the spectrum, Facebook will have a hard time picking your politics out.
Relevant political ads
By trying to figure out the political leanings of its users, Facebook is helping political campaigns to target their audience. It is also a way for Facebook to ensure that it doesn’t serve you ads that could get you irritated.