Facebook to shut off third-party data targeting

Facebook cuts out third party data targeting

Facebook is closing Partner Categories, meaning advertisers can no longer target against third-party data, in what amounts to the latest chapter in the ongoing Cambridge Analytica scandal.

A statement by the social media behemoth reads: “We want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down Partner Categories. This product enables third party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook.

“While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people's privacy on Facebook.”

Advertisers will still be able to target on Facebook using Facebook’s native data and their own first party data but it’s cutting off the use of third party data segments. Third party data providers include the likes of Experian and Axciom.

The move follows intense scrutiny of the business in how it uses and protects user data, after a huge number of its users data was found to have been used by political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. The scandal, initiated by an investigation by The Guardian and Observer, has had serious ramifications already and Facebook’s responded by improving privacy settings for users this week.

From an advertisers perspective, pressure has been increasing as major brands and advertiser trade bodies, such as ISBA, mounted a response and threatened to pull spend.

Calls for explanation have rippled around the world with Facebook even being called to account at a hearing in Singapore, of which the agenda was originally meant to solely focus on fake news.

Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg has since issued an apology, even buying space in UK print media and publishing a letter, but it hasn’t been positively received by all.

Additional words by Charlotte McEleny.

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