Most Facebook users don’t know that it records a list of their interests, new study finds

By Julia Alexander

via d35lb3dl296zwu.cloudfront.net

Seventy-four percent of Facebook users are unaware that Facebook records a list of their interests for ad-targeting purposes, according to a new study from the Pew Institute.

Participants in the study were first pointed to Facebook’s ad preferences page, which lists out a person’s interests. Nearly 60 percent of participants admitted that Facebook’s lists of interests were very or somewhat accurate to their actual interests, and 51 percent said they were uncomfortable with Facebook creating the list.

Facebook has weathered serious questions about its collection of personal information in recent years. CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress last year acknowledging privacy concerns and touching upon the company’s collection of personal information. While Zuckerberg said Facebook users have complete control over the information they upload and the information Facebook uses to actively target ads at its users, it’s clear from the Pew study that most people are not aware of Facebook’s collection tactics.

The Pew study also demonstrates that, while Facebook offers a number of transparency and data control tools, most users are not aware of where they should be looking. Even when the relevant information is located, there are often multiple steps to go through to delete assigned interests.

Zuckerberg announced a tool for Facebook users last May that would help them clear their history and give them more control over their privacy, but he admitted that Facebook needed to do a better job of handling data and giving people control.

“One thing I learned from my experience testifying in Congress is that I didn’t have clear enough answers to some of the questions about data,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We’re working to make sure these controls are clear, and we will have more to come soon.”

The Verge has reached out to Facebook for more information.