Why Facebook Is Big Brother, And How To Turn It Off

Photo by Matt Battaglia

Facebook knows about the birthday gifts you bought on Amazon, has archived all your embarrassing high school breakup statuses, and knows exactly where your mom finds those religious motivational memes she sends to everyone. Unsurprisingly, it also has an idea about your political leanings. And even if you think you’ve managed to outwit Mark Zuckerberg by not posting that photo in your “Make America Great Again” hat, and keeping your political rants to a minimum, you haven’t.

The billion-user social media site collects data about you every time you log in. While that is primarily done to lure you into buying things by showcasing relevant ads, Facebook is also able to draw conclusions about how liberal, moderate, or conservative you might lean.

But there is a way to change that.

Under your settings, there is an ad preferences page. When you click through, you will see a list of categories including “news and entertainment,” “business industry,” “travel, places and events,” and “lifestyle and culture.” This last category will tell you exactly what Facebook knows about your views and how you live.

If “US Politics” doesn’t show up in the first two rows, click “See More.” When I found it, Facebook had surmised — accurately — my political viewpoint. And it knows other things too, like the fact that I live away from home, away from family, and am a proponent of profanity… damn.

The good news is that these designations can be removed with a simple click of an “X” in the top right corner.

However, opting out of those categories also means that your content will no longer be curated to your liking anymore. All those times you hit “hide” on clickbait-y Upworthy articles, and the political pages you liked or declined to like, those will no longer be factored into what content comes up in your Facebook news feed.

It’s worth noting that the carefully crafted news feed stories and videos that almost always show you things that you want to see, will instead show you all the unfiltered political news — including things you don’t agree with — or ads for items you would never buy.

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