POLL: Facebook Labels Your Politics


Facebook is under a microscope like never before. In recent days, the Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation into Facebook over its handling of user data, and this week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly agreed to testify at an upcoming Congressional hearing on privacy concerns. The new scrutiny has led to the discovery of more personal information that Facebook gathers and stores on you. The latest such finding is a feature under the Ad Preferences section, where by clicking on a tab called Your Categories, then on US Politics, you will see what political label Facebook applies to you...Very Liberal, Liberal, Moderate, Conservative or Very Conservative.

Facebook says it determines the political label based on information you provide and "other activity" on your profile. One expert believes it's less surprising that companies like Facebook would use our info and activity to build a political profile on us than the fact that we willingly give them much of that info. "It's surprising, I think, to everybody in our society...the ease of use and the attraction of being able to control your information is quite fascinating," says Garth Jowett, pop culture professor at the University of Houston.

Jowett tells KTRH that our social media profiles and online activity have become the primary means for collecting information on us. "I guess the potential risk is we are seeing a fundamental change in how people acquire information," he says.

Facebook has responded to the recent criticism by tweaking its privacy settings and pledging other changes, but Jowett believes it may not be enough to regain users' trust. "They've looked at what they've created, and they don't want to go to their graves being concerned about having created some kind of fundamental social and cultural problem," he says. "It's a bit like Dr. Frankenstein worrying about the fact that he's let the monster loose on the world."


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