Facebook’s practice of “mictrotargeting” — in which ad buyers select audiences based on such details as a user’s location, political leanings and interests — is coming under increasing scrutiny from government officials, researchers and advertising executives, who advocate restricting its use.
The critics warn microtargeting can be exploited to polarize and manipulate voters. It is also, however, a huge cash cow for Facebook, writes Natasha Singer at bizjournals.com.
“It has essentially weaponized ad technology designed for consumer products and services,” said Sarah Golding, president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, an industry organization in Britain. Her group recently called for a moratorium on political microtargeting. “There is a danger that every single person can get their own concerns played back to them.”
Much of the new attention being paid to microtargeted advertising has emerged from investigations into how Russian groups interfered in elections and how the voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of millions of Facebook users. Microtargeting, they have found, was a central tool for foreign groups trying to interfere in elections.
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