Facebook labels people based on their political beliefs
Facebook labels people based on their political beliefs. Image credit: PC World.

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) gives all of its users one out of three political stance label liberals, moderate or conservatives, even if they avoid posting about politics.

It’s not hard to find. The new label is in Facebook.com/ads/preferences (on the desktop), under interest, inside the category “Lifestyle and Culture” there is a box called “U.S Politics.” In here, anyone can see the political stance Facebook chose for them.

Facebook tries to infer which candidate the user prefers by their usual activity on the site. It’s information the company has been collecting for years, and it’s a sneak peek of the ad-targeting mechanics.

Facebook knows about people's political stance.
Facebook knows if you are Republican, Democrat or Liberal.

How does Facebook know if someone is a Democrat, Republican or Liberal? 

The ads preference tab has an algorithm designed to learn what the user likes based on what the user posts and tends to visit. The social media also takes into consideration the preferences declared in the “About me” section.

For example, if the person recently liked a Facebook page like, say, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump’s official site on the network. U.S. politics is not the only label Facebook has for its users.

Brand affiliations are another piece to fuel the algorithm. When all of the pillars combine, they start adding points toward particular inclinations. So, if a user follows the NRA page, he is more likely to be a Republican.

Facebook has several broad categories (like food, sports, education, and family) where they continuously add preferences based on the customer’s clicks.

Facebook is using politics to test its ‘Audience Optimization’ tool

How Facebook’s mechanism exactly works is unclear, yet the implications are evident. Last week, the social media made public their customer’s interest as part of a new tool they named “Audience Optimization.” It allows any official page to identify “Preferred Audience” for a post with a simple search of interest relevant to the story.

“The tool will help publishers reach and engage their audiences on Facebook and better understand the interest of people clicking on their post,” posted Facebook at the official site.

Official publishers can see audience size in each of the major labels in the ad preference section. The categories are words that one could find in a standard search through the web: names of bands of celebrities, love, sex, food and so on.

Donald Trump is the presidential candidate with more followers on Facebook

Facebook formulates the interest with open graph pages, which gives statistics about articles, music and videos shared; as well as the Facebook Ads tags and other data sets.

The sheer spectrum (and randomness) of the list points the algorithm is picking up words from posts. For example, the word “with” has an audience of 58 million people who may just be heavy abusers of the preposition.

Republican candidate Donald Trump has the biggest audience size among US politicians in the social media, with 29,184,210 followers. Democrat Hillary Clinton falls behind in the 8th position with 3,196,570. Although, audience size does not question the user’s sentiment about the tag.

Source: The Verge