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Study Finds 74% of Facebook Users Unaware of Extent of Site's Data Collection

Seventy-four percent of Facebook users have no idea the website keeps a list of their interests, preferences and traits according to a Wednesday survey revealing that many users are wholly unaware of the media space in which they operate.

Upon learning that the site collects data about them based on their online interactions, 51 percent of users weren’t comfortable with Facebook collecting information, according to Pew Research Center’s Wednesday report. Only five percent of users described themselves as “very comfortable” with Facebook creating lists of interests.

“Pew’s findings underscore the importance of transparency and control across the entire ad industry, and the need for more consumer education around the controls we place at people’s fingertips,” Facebook said in a statement, according to The Washington Post.

“There’s a constant, fluid trade-off between privacy and sharing,” Internet and Technology Research Director Lee Rainie also said, according to the Post.

Pew conducted its report by surveying a nationally representative sample of 963 adult U.S. Facebook users. Survey respondents were asked questions between Sept. 4 and Oct. 1, 2018.

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Facebook assigns 51 percent of users a political “affinity,” Pew’s report notes. Seventy-three percent of those assigned a political category say the description is somewhat to very accurate, according to the report.

Pew’s findings highlight a lack of user awareness as well as concerns about Facebook breaching private matters. Privacy concerns are not new for the company.

Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica in March after allegations the company harvested users’ personal data. The company announced it was closing two months later. Soon after, the public became aware of the firestorm between the companies, prompting concern that user data had been compromised and that Facebook had not adequately vetted its commercial partners.

Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos also left the company in March. A month later CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified on Capitol Hill about the company’s vetting process.

Are you comfortable with Facebook having this data?

Facebook has faced other concerns, including an October complaint from a group of advertisers, alleging the company knew about problematic measurement tactics massively inflating video viewership numbers and did nothing to address the problem for at least a year.

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