Facebook Makes First Real Move to Curtail Abusive Ad Targeting on their Platform

But when I spoke with an analyst at Microstrategy that December, he told me that the company’s data set — by then, nearly 17.5 million strong — was based on just 52,600 actual installs, each of which provided access to an average of 332 friends.

Nor was Microstrategy doing something unusual. The tactic of collecting friend data, which has been featured prominently in the Cambridge Analytica coverage, was a well-known way of turning a handful of app users into a goldmine.

The story of how that Sudafed ad got to me begins at Walgreens. As I bought tissues and Afrin, I keyed in my phone number so I could get loyalty points.

Information about the contents of my shopping bag began to spread. A third-party data collector — likely Nielsen-Catalina Solutions — added it to the purchase history it acquires from Walgreens.

Johnson & Johnson, maker of Sudafed, paid the data broker for that information. With the use of Facebook’s tools, the information from my loyalty card — email, phone number, etc. — was matched with my Facebook account. (Data brokers run personal information through an algorithm before uploading so it’s not identifiable, Facebook says, but it still can be matched with Facebook account information.)

Why Facebook’s Change is Massive

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"Everything you touch you change. Everything you change, changes you" - Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower

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