Researchers show Facebook’s ad tools can target a single user

The researchers demonstrate that they were able to use Facebook’s Custom Audience tool to target a number of ads in such a way that each ad only reached a single, intended Facebook user.

“We run an experiment through 21 Facebook ad campaigns that target three of the authors of this paper to prove that, if an advertiser knows enough interests from a user, the Facebook Advertising Platform can be systematically exploited to deliver ads exclusively to a specific user”, they write, adding that the paper provides “The first empirical evidence” that one-to-one/nanotargeting can be “Systematically implemented on FB by just knowing a random set of interests of the targeted user”.

The extension, called Data Valuation Tool for Facebook Users, parsed each user’s Facebook ad preferences page to gather the interests assigned to them, as well as providing a real-time estimate about the revenue they generate for Facebook based on the ads they receive while browsing the platform.

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