Skip to Content
Silicon Valley

Most people don’t know what Facebook knows about them

January 17, 2019

Most Facebook users aren’t aware how much Facebook knows about them, and they tend to not be comfortable when they find out, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

The findings: Around 75% of Facebook users in the US are unaware the social network tracks and records a list of their interests in order to target advertising. Once pointed to their Facebook ad preferences page, 59% said it reflected their interests while 27% said it did not. A small majority—51%—said they were uncomfortable with Facebook compiling this information. The study surveyed 963 US adults at the end of last year.

Surprising? You might think people would be clued in after the never-ending Facebook data and privacy scandals over the last year, and its new campaign claiming to be more transparent. Is this our fault for not being curious enough, or Facebook’s for not doing more to inform us?

How to check your Facebook advertising profile: It’s very simple. Go to your Facebook profile, click “settings,” then “ads,” then “your information.”

This story first appeared in our newsletter The Download. Sign up here to get your daily dose of the latest in emerging tech. 


Keep Reading

Most Popular

DeepMind’s cofounder: Generative AI is just a phase. What’s next is interactive AI.

“This is a profound moment in the history of technology,” says Mustafa Suleyman.

What to know about this autumn’s covid vaccines

New variants will pose a challenge, but early signs suggest the shots will still boost antibody responses.

Human-plus-AI solutions mitigate security threats

With the right human oversight, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence can help keep business and customer data secure

Next slide, please: A brief history of the corporate presentation

From million-dollar slide shows to Steve Jobs’s introduction of the iPhone, a bit of show business never hurt plain old business.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.