I want Facebook to keep its nose out of my voter registration status

; Date: Tue Sep 28 2021

Tags: Voter Registration »»»» Facebook

It's important that a large percentage of citizens vote in elections. It's important that we are registered to vote, that we vote in every election, and that our votes are counted correctly. But that does not give Facebook the right to collect demographics data about our voting registration status.

Image of Facebook posting annotated by David Herron

Facebook's business model is to sell advertising services to advertisers. Anyone who has gone into the Facebook Business backend to place advertising knows about the extensive demographics data it has collected. Using that demographics data, advertisers can use Facebook advertising to precisely target people based on extremely detailed interests.

According to Facebook's financial filings with the SEC, the company had about $40 billion USD in operating revenue in 2017, and this rose to about $85 billion USD in 2020. In 2020 that resulted in operating income (profit) of about $32 billion USD. Those numbers are from the Yahoo Finance summary of Facebook's SEC filings.

In other words, Facebook rakes in huge amounts of revenue, and profit. Its primary income producing activity is advertising placed on the Facebook platform.

Since advertising on Facebook allows for precise targeting based on interests, how does Facebook collect those interests? Facebook simply watches our every move on Facebook. By collecting every detail, Facebook is able to deduce our interests. And once Facebook knows our interests, it is able to earn huge revenues from allowing advertisers to target us based on our interests.

This particular posting was clearly created by Facebook. It has all the earmarkings of a kind friendly public service announcement, and the topic is extremely important. As noted above, it is important that we vote. This means Facebook is able to burnish its image by claiming it is serving the public interest in reminding people to vote.

But, what do you think will happen upon clicking either of those buttons?

You'll be brought to the correct voter registration webpage based on which button you click. But, won't Facebook also record which of the buttons you clicked? Will Facebook treat this as an important piece of demographic information against which to sell advertising?

Every time we click Like on a Facebook page, or on someone's posting, that gives Facebook a little bit of data. Every time we share something onto Facebook, another bit of data. Our words, our pictures, the life events we're encouraged to enter into Facebook, and on and on. Facebook collects all of that data, and more, packaging the data as an advertising platform.

To get a sense of this, login to Facebook and click on the Facebook Menu:

Head into the Privacy area of your Facebook Settings. You'll find your profile information, a log of activity on Facebook, and a log of activity off of Facebook. The latter is data collected by Facebook via other websites that you've visited. Facebook graciously offers to delete the data it has collected, but how can we be certain it will actually do so?

The suggestion being made is to be aware of what Facebook is doing, and to be selective about what you do on Facebooks platform. Always remember that Facebook's goal is collecting data to enable advertisers to target advertising.

Give Facebook as little information as you can manage. And, the same warning is true of Twitter, Google, and plenty of other online services.

As they say: If you're not paying, if it's a free service, then you are the product.

About the Author(s)

David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.