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‘Don’t use Facebook Reactions if you want privacy,’ warn police

Facebook users who use its reactions feature are putting their privacy at risk, Belgium’s police force have warned.

The warning claims the reactions allow the social network to understand its users better and help its advertisers personalise posts. Limiting the number of reactions to six encourages people to express their emotions in this way more frequently, the police continued, adding that the expressions of emotion inform Facebook as to when is the best time to show ads.

In turn, that will help it “find the perfect location on your profile, allowing it to display content that will arouse curiosity but also choose the time you present it,” the Belgium police said in a statement. It went on to explain how the social network uses the information from reactions to sell advertising space based on a user’s “mood”, concluding that following experience “will be one more reason not to click too fast if you want to preserve your privacy”.

It is not the first time the social network has faced anti-privacy criticisms in Belgium, with authorities there having already banned it from tracking non-users with browser cookies.

Given that Facebook is essentially an advertising company – 96.5 per cent of its 2015 revenues came from ads – its arguable that many users who want to protect their privacy already stay away from the social network. On the flipside, the statement could be handy for advice for those who still want to use the platform but limit to some extent what it knows about them.