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Does Facebook Use Sensitive Data for Advertising Purposes?

mobile phone users and a megaphone with Facebook icon, illustration

Citizens worldwide have demonstrated serious concerns regarding the management of personal information by online services. For instance, the 2015 Eurobarometer about data protection13 reveals that: 63% of citizens within the Eurpean Union (EU) do not trust online businesses, more than half do not like providing personal information in return for free services, and 53% do not like that Internet companies use their personal information in tailored advertising. Similarly, a recent survey carried out among U.S. users9 reveals that 53% of respondents were against receiving tailored ads from the information websites and apps learn about them, 42% do not think websites care about using users data securely and responsibly at all, and 73% considers websites know too much about users. A survey conducted by Internet Society (ISOC) in the Asia-Pacific region in 20168 disclosed that 59% of the respondent did not feel their privacy is sufficiently protected when using the Internet, and 45% considered getting the attention of policymakers in their country on data protection a matter or urgency.

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Policymakers have reacted to this situation by passing or proposing new regulations in the area of privacy and/or data protection. For instance, in May 2018, the EU enforced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)6 across all 28 member states. Similarly, in June 2018, California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act,3 which is claimed to be the nation's toughest data privacy law. In countries like Argentina or Chile, the governments proposed new bills in 2017 updating their existing data protection regulation.11 For this article, we will take as reference the GDPR since it is the one affecting more countries, citizens, and companies.


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