Facebook now shows you who uploaded and shared your information for other advertisers to target you

Key Points
  • Facebook is letting users see the businesses uploading lists of their emails and phone numbers, and the advertisers using that information to match an ad to your profile.
  • Users can also see more information about their list of interests or categories that informs what ads they see.
  • Facebook users can toggle certain settings, like turning off ads based on data from outside companies.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the F8 Developer Conference in 2017.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook is updating the kinds of information users can see about why they're viewing a certain ad.

The changes to Facebook's "Why am I seeing this ad?" experience, announced Thursday in a blog post, includes more specific information about why a user is being targeted by an ad with interests and categories. Users will now also be able to see more information about the businesses uploading lists of their information, and the advertisers using those lists to target ads.

The new features come as Facebook continues to grapple with its privacy practices and how it uses personal data to display ads. For the first time, Facebook users will be able to see what third-party data brokers and agencies are providing data to Facebook to target personalized ads.

Social media companies will inevitably see tighter privacy policies: Analyst

Users will now be able to browse businesses that uploaded and shared a list with user information, including email addresses or phone numbers. In the section, Facebook claims it matches that uploaded information to a person's profile "without revealing your identity to the business, through a hashing process." Facebook claims this ensures the company doesn't see that information and that a business can't see the contact information of Facebook users.

For instance, those businesses sharing my information include Oracle Data Cloud, identity resolution company LiveRamp and media agency Starcom USA. In total, my information was uploaded by 74 businesses, according to Facebook.

Facebook also now shows the advertisers that are using that uploaded information to advertise to you. The list shows advertisers that uploaded a list from businesses and used that list to run at least one ad in the past seven days. On Thursday, that list included 57 advertisers, including HBO's "Big Little Lies," a car dealer in Chicago (where I used to live) and a lieutenant governor candidate in Mississippi. (I've never lived in Mississippi. I've actually never been to Mississippi).

Users will also show people reasons why they're seeing an ad on Facebook. When users select "Why am I seeing this ad" in the dropdown menu of an ad, they'll be able to see more detailed targeting information, like the interests or categories that matched them to a specific ad, as well as where that information came from if they had previously visited a website or liked a certain Facebook page.

On Facebook's "Your ad preferences" page, users can browse this information, choose ad settings (like turning off ads based on data from outside advertisers and other companies) and hide certain ad topics.

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