After all the scandals and hubbub and congressional testimony and mea culpas in Facebook’s nearly 15 years of existence, one would think that its users would have a pretty firm grasp on how the business works.
Surely, users know that Facebook uses information about their behaviors and friendships to deduce a constantly updating list of their interests. This detailed information about people constitutes Facebook’s competitive advantage: If it knows what people like, it can put ads in front of them that are likely to result in purchases.
But, no—a new Pew study indicates that after all this time, a large majority of users still don’t know that Facebook compiles this kind of information.
Pew researchers called up almost a thousand Americans and asked them if they knew about the list of “traits and interests” that Facebook keeps for almost all active users. The company provides users easy access to it—you can see your own list here—yet 74 percent of respondents to the survey said they did not know about the list’s existence.
Furthermore, 51 percent of those surveyed said they were “not comfortable with Facebook compiling this information.”