Facebook is reportedly eliminating some information fields from users’ profiles according to a notification received and shared by social media influencer Matt Navarra on 16 November.
Facebook is removing religious views and ‘interested in’ info from profiles from 1 December 2022 pic.twitter.com/SKjSrtwUwm
— Matt Navarra – Exiting X… Follow me on Threads (@MattNavarra) November 16, 2022
The fields that will no longer be available are those that depict the person’s religious and political views, sexual orientation, and address. The company cited that the decision will make the platform “easier to navigate and use”.
The data will be taken out of the interface on 1 December and users are being given the option to download all of their stored Facebook data before the change occurs. Only individuals who have filled these fields will be notified about their removal.
Political, Religious, and Sexual Affiliations Can No Longer Be Used for Ad Targeting
Even though the change seems rather harmless, these data points are some of the most controversial when it comes to ad targeting. In this regard, advertisers can use Facebook’s platform to create audiences that share certain interests, beliefs, or viewpoints.
Political ads can, for example, target individuals who have listed their political preferences on the platform while religious ads may filter out audiences that share a specific belief for promoting an agenda, product, service, solution, or gathering.
Facebook had already removed the possibility of targeting individuals by using these data points last year as indicated by a blog post published on 9 November by Graham Mudd, the firm’s former VP of Product Marketing, Ads & Business Products.
Back then, the company said the decision came in response to concerns raised by several experts in civil rights and legislators about how bad actors could exploit the platform’s audience targeting capabilities to promote false narratives and other harmful agendas. These changes came into effect on 19 January this year.
Political ads and their use the spread of misinformation and fake news along with promoting violence have been among the most controversial issues that Facebook has had to deal with, especially after the incidents that occurred in the United States Capitol on 6 January. These events may have motivated Facebook to make the changes mentioned above.
Meta Platforms (META), the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is also struggling to remain attractive for young cohorts as new platforms such as TikTok have become leading forces in the space by introducing new content formats and focusing more on video posts rather than images.
Facebook is Becoming Old-Fashioned and its Founder Knows It
Facebook has been accused by investors and marketers of being too slow to respond to these changes while the founder of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, recently acknowledged that he “sort of missed” the latest trend in the social media space.
In an interview with analyst Ben Thompson for his newsletter Stratechery, Zuckerberg highlighted that people are now less interested in who creates the content they see and prefer to be entertained by the type of content they like.
Initially, platforms like Facebook and Instagram were a place to exchange content with friends and family. However, they have now been turned into commercial machines and celebrity-making platforms that can be used by content creators to reach large audiences that were otherwise inaccessible before these spaces arrived.
Platforms like TikTok do not require or allow users to share specific data about them such as the one Facebook has just scrapped off its interface. Instead, they let users identify themselves and share some more information about their interests and identity by writing a short bio.
Instagram has adopted the same concept since the beginning but it is not until now, 10 years after the social media platform was acquired by Zuckerberg’s company, that Facebook is modifying its interface to the likes of its fiercest rival – TikTok – and its very own subsidiary.
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