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Facebook insists it does not sell data to advertisers

The social network has published new details on how its advertising data works.

Facebook has reiterated that it does not sell data from its users to advertisers.

In a blog post by Rob Goldman, the social network’s vice president for ads, the company laid out what it called the “basic mechanics of Facebook advertising”.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg denied the company sold user data to advertisers, during an appearance before the US Congress earlier this month, where he faced questions on the Cambridge Analytica scandal and how the company used personal data.

The company said the new blog post was in response to an increasing number of questions from users on Facebook’s data privacy and advertising business.

We do not tell advertisers who you are or sell your information to anyone. That has always been true Rob Goldman

“To build a product that connects people across continents and cultures, we need to make sure everyone can afford it,” Mr Goldman said.

“Advertising lets us keep Facebook free. But we aren’t blind to the challenges this model poses. It requires a steadfast commitment to privacy.

“So our promise is this: we do not tell advertisers who you are or sell your information to anyone. That has always been true. We think relevant advertising and privacy aren’t in conflict, and we’re committed to doing both well.”

Mr Goldman’s blog post said Facebook uses information shared by users – such as basic profile information and page likes – to show them relevant adverts, but does not identify users in this process.

“We provide advertisers with reports about the kinds of people seeing their ads and how their ads are performing, but we don’t share information that personally identifies you,” he said.

“You can always see the ‘interests’ assigned to you in your ad preferences, and if you want, remove them.”

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(Facebook)

The social network also said that when advertisers bring them information to reach users on the site, it does not share identifying data with the advertiser.

The blog post added that other websites and apps that use Facebook tools – such as a share or like button – can ask the company to show adverts to users who have used their service, but Facebook users can turn this feature off.

Mr Goldman also denied suggestions that because users do not pay for Facebook, they themselves are the product.

“Our product is social media – the ability to connect with the people that matter to you, wherever they are in the world,” he said.

“It’s the same with a free search engine, website or newspaper. The core product is reading the news or finding information – and the ads exist to fund that experience.”

He added that Facebook would not allow users to opt out of seeing adverts because “ads are what keep Facebook free”.

The blog post comes after MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis announced he is filing a defamation lawsuit against the social network over claims that it published scam adverts from criminals using his name.

It also comes before an appearance before MPs on Thursday by Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer, who will face questions from a House of Commons select committee over the company’s business practices and privacy policies.

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