Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Taxonomy of Facebook

I went to library school because I really like helping people find things and connecting people with books is somthing I’ve always enjoyed. I thought I would be traditional academic librarian though during library school I fell in love with taxonomies. (An organized structure that broke down information into separate atomized categories really spoke to me a cellular level.) I have since drifted away from doing regular taxonomy work though I still love the practice and was thus intrigued when my wife and I were listening to a recent Reply All episode where an unusual taxonomy came up.

The hosts tried to debunk the often compelling myth that Facebook is secretly spying on you and they mention how Facebook categorizes users into different groups depending on the data we provide Facebook as well as our activity.

How you find the specific results is a follows: Login to Facebook -> Access Settings -> Ads -> Your Information -> Review and Manage Your Categories.

Looking thru my data it is fairly comprehensive in terms of content depth and breadth. There is information on how I access Facebook (device/browser) as well as interest oriented categories that appear to be faceted (Parents - All, Parents - Toddlers). Once you have the categories you can then select them and the types of ads that are aligned with that category. (You can also confirm or not whether this category is not something you’re in fact interested in too. If you don’t confirm you’re interested in a topic the system will remove it from your profile.) The taxonomy appears to be controlled and undergoing changes (one of the terms changed in the past two weeks since I first listened to this podcast and as of this writing).

I found the taxonomy really interesting though it definitely reenforces that Facebook is a Ad platform that happens to host your content. I would recommend everyone access Facebook to check out the categories they’ve been assigned and make sure you’re comfortable with the arrangement. I personally have gotten value from Facebook Ads. I have products that are useful and the big-brotherness is outweighed by the service it provides. I definitely post on Facebook as though it was public as even if you limit the privacy settings to limit the access Facebook still knows and it could affect your ad profile now or in the future.