When you set your Facebook page to private, you may assume only your friends or family members can see your activity, but Consumer Reporter Jackie Callaway found Facebook uses your activity on the social media giant to target you with ads.
Patricia Piety said she realized just how much Facebook has tracked her after one of her cats suffered an abscessed tooth and she reached out to a friend on Facebook with her pet’s problems.
“We were chatting about George and his abscessed tooth,” said Piety.
The next day, Piety said she was surprised when an ad for a local dentist popped up into her Facebook messenger feed.
“You’re private from other humans,” said Ryan Malize of Pinellas Computers.
Malize told ABC Action News that while no one at Facebook is reading your private conversations, computers are analyzing what you type for certain buzz words and that information is used to target your feed with ads for goods and services you’ve expressed an interest in.
Malize said Facebook uses information “because you are not paying them and that’s the only way they can make money.”
A Facebook spokesperson emailed ABC Action News to say the company does not read its users’ private messages to create personalized ads.
But the social media site can use your social media searches.
On its website, Facebook admits it uses your activity on other sites as well, stating, “To show you better ads, we use data that advertisers and other partners provide us about your activity off Facebook company products.”
If you’re not interested in being targeted by those ads, you can opt out and block certain advertising content. You can find out how to do that here .