Close
Date TimeApril 11, 2018
VoiceFacebook collects a lot of data about you — everything from your email address to the strength of your phone’s battery.
This is how Facebook uses your data for ad targeting
The simplest explanation for this is that Facebook uses that data to make money. No, Facebook doesn’t sell your data. But it does sell access to you, or more specifically, access to your News Feed, and uses that data to show you specific ads it thinks you’re likely to enjoy or click on.
This targeted advertising is big business for Facebook. The company reported advertising revenue of $40 billion last year, and it’s only going to keep growing. Given the company’s recent privacy issues involving Cambridge Analytica, a third-party data firm that got its hands on personal data for as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission, we thought it might be helpful to take a closer look at how Facebook uses your data to make money.
It’s also clear that many people don’t know the details of how Facebook’s advertising business works. Many of these questions were asked by lawmakers on Tuesday when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in Washington, D.C.
Some of these answers can be found in the company’s Data Policy, which Facebook just updated to better explain what it collects and how it’s used. We also asked a company spokesperson for responses to all of these questions. Those answers are summarized below.
Does Facebook sell your data?
No. Facebook uses your data to sell access to you. For example, it will put an ad in your News Feed, but it doesn’t sell the data you provide to outside buyers. That makes sense when you stop and think about it. Facebook’s business is valuable because it has so much personal data about its users. Selling that data to advertisers would significantly decrease Facebook’s value.
Does Facebook share your data with businesses or advertisers? When?
Outside businesses can collect your data if you grant them permission — for example, if you use your Facebook account to log in to a third-party app like Uber or Spotify. Facebook just announced changes to some of those data-sharing APIs to better ensure that agreeing to share your own data won’t let those outside companies collect data about your friends without their permission. (This is what happened with the Cabridge Analytica situation.) Of course, any data you share publicly to your Facebook page is accessible to anyone online.
How can you see what data Facebook has collected about you?
There are a couple places to look. Visit “Settings” on Facebook, and under the “General” tab you will see an option to “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” Click that. This will give you all of the data Facebook has collected about you, from private messages to photos to your search history.
Under “Settings” you can also click “Ads,” which will bring you to an “Ad Preferences” that includes the interests Facebook thinks you have (and advertisers use to target you), and other information they might use to target you (e.g. the type of phone you use). You can remove interests or information from this page that isn’t relevant or that you don’t want Facebook using to target you.
Do advertisers know if you’ve seen their ad?
Not really. Advertisers can see details about who sees their ads, but only in aggregate. For example, an advertiser could see that their ad reached 1,000 males in San Francisco, but it could not see names of each of those 1,000 users.
Does Facebook use info from your private messages to target you with ads?
No. Facebook says it might look at your private messages to determine if they violate the company’s policies, but it doesn’t use that information for ad targeting. Facebook won’t use the contents of your private messages to target you with ads on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram either, according to a spokesperson.
Does Facebook use your phone’s microphone to listen to you at any time?
The company says no. “We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio,” the company wrote on its blog.
Does Facebook use your call history or off-Facebook text message data to target you with ads?
No, Facebook does not use this data to target you with ads, according to a Facebook spokesperson. Facebook can see the call and text history for Android users who opt in to let the company see that data. It also says it doesn’t use it to recommend friends you might like to connect with.
Does Facebook use the same set of data to target you with ads on Instagram that is uses to target you with ads on Facebook?
Yes. What you do on Instagram could lead to ads you see on Facebook, and vice versa. “The same interest-based targeting available to advertisers who target ads to people on Facebook is available for Instagram ads,” a company spokesperson told Recode. “This includes interests based on the things people do on and off Facebook.”
Does Facebook use the same set of data to target you with ads on Messenger that it uses to target you with ads on Facebook?
Again, yes. “Messenger Ads (ads placed in people’s Messenger home screen) use the same audience targeting options as Facebook ads,” a spokesperson says.

Related Stories
Jared Kushner dubs Trump-Russia investigation a big distractionJared Kushner dubs Trump-Russia investigation 'a big distraction'
Facebook investors launch desperate bid to oust Mark ZuckerbergFacebook investors launch desperate bid to oust Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook investigated by New York AG over email harvestingFacebook investigated by New York AG over email harvesting
Facebook says it needs more regulation, not a breakupFacebook says it needs more regulation, not a breakup
WhatsApp flaw let hackers install spyware on cellphonesWhatsApp flaw let hackers install spyware on cellphones
Delete Facebook now: WhatsApp co-founder gives a talk at Stanford'Delete Facebook now': WhatsApp co-founder gives a talk at Stanford
News Trends
Inside Kim Kardashian and Kanye Wests Low-Key Anniversary DinnerInside Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's Low-Key Anniversary Dinner
Federal judge blocks Trump from using Defense funds for parts of border wallFederal judge blocks Trump from using Defense funds for parts of border wall
Naomi Wolf admits blunder over Victorians and sodomy executionsNaomi Wolf admits blunder over Victorians and sodomy executions
‘Aladdin’: Naomi Scott on Why Her Princess Jasmine Needed Nasim Pedrad’s New Character‘Aladdin’: Naomi Scott on Why Her Princess Jasmine Needed Nasim Pedrad’s New Character
Former Baylor coach Art Briles named head coach of Texas Mount Vernon High SchoolFormer Baylor coach Art Briles named head coach of Texas' Mount Vernon High School
Delete Facebook now: WhatsApp co-founder gives a talk at Stanford'Delete Facebook now': WhatsApp co-founder gives a talk at Stanford
Feel no pity for Theresa May. She has been the worst prime minister in modern times | Owen JonesFeel no pity for Theresa May. She has been the worst prime minister in modern times | Owen Jones
Kylie Jenner Breaks Silence on Jordyn Woods Betrayal in Heartbreaking ‘KUWTK’ ClipKylie Jenner Breaks Silence on Jordyn Woods Betrayal in Heartbreaking ‘KUWTK’ Clip
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Celebrate 5-Year Wedding AnniversaryKim Kardashian and Kanye West Celebrate 5-Year Wedding Anniversary
Elon Musks SpaceX raises over $1 billion this year as internet satellite production ramps upElon Musk's SpaceX raises over $1 billion this year as internet satellite production ramps up
Leaders
Donald-TrumpDonald Trump
45th President of the United States of America
Mike-PenceMike Pence
Vice President of the United States
Theresa-MayTheresa May
British Prime Minister
Angela-MerkelAngela Merkel
Chancellor of Germany
Emmanuel-MacronEmmanuel Macron
President of France
Justin-TrudeauJustin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Nancy-PelosiNancy Pelosi
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Barack-ObamaBarack Obama
44th U.S. President
Vladimir-PutinVladimir Putin
Russian President
Shinzo-AbeShinzō Abe
Prime Minister of Japan
Related Stories
Jared Kushner dubs Trump-Russia investigation a big distractionJared Kushner dubs Trump-Russia investigation 'a big distraction'
Facebook investors launch desperate bid to oust Mark ZuckerbergFacebook investors launch desperate bid to oust Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook investigated by New York AG over email harvestingFacebook investigated by New York AG over email harvesting
Facebook says it needs more regulation, not a breakupFacebook says it needs more regulation, not a breakup
WhatsApp flaw let hackers install spyware on cellphonesWhatsApp flaw let hackers install spyware on cellphones
Delete Facebook now: WhatsApp co-founder gives a talk at Stanford'Delete Facebook now': WhatsApp co-founder gives a talk at Stanford
News Trends
Inside Kim Kardashian and Kanye Wests Low-Key Anniversary DinnerInside Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's Low-Key Anniversary Dinner
Federal judge blocks Trump from using Defense funds for parts of border wallFederal judge blocks Trump from using Defense funds for parts of border wall
Naomi Wolf admits blunder over Victorians and sodomy executionsNaomi Wolf admits blunder over Victorians and sodomy executions
‘Aladdin’: Naomi Scott on Why Her Princess Jasmine Needed Nasim Pedrad’s New Character‘Aladdin’: Naomi Scott on Why Her Princess Jasmine Needed Nasim Pedrad’s New Character
Former Baylor coach Art Briles named head coach of Texas Mount Vernon High SchoolFormer Baylor coach Art Briles named head coach of Texas' Mount Vernon High School
Delete Facebook now: WhatsApp co-founder gives a talk at Stanford'Delete Facebook now': WhatsApp co-founder gives a talk at Stanford
Feel no pity for Theresa May. She has been the worst prime minister in modern times | Owen JonesFeel no pity for Theresa May. She has been the worst prime minister in modern times | Owen Jones
Kylie Jenner Breaks Silence on Jordyn Woods Betrayal in Heartbreaking ‘KUWTK’ ClipKylie Jenner Breaks Silence on Jordyn Woods Betrayal in Heartbreaking ‘KUWTK’ Clip
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Celebrate 5-Year Wedding AnniversaryKim Kardashian and Kanye West Celebrate 5-Year Wedding Anniversary
Elon Musks SpaceX raises over $1 billion this year as internet satellite production ramps upElon Musk's SpaceX raises over $1 billion this year as internet satellite production ramps up
Leaders
Donald-TrumpDonald Trump
45th President of the United States of America
Mike-PenceMike Pence
Vice President of the United States
Theresa-MayTheresa May
British Prime Minister
Angela-MerkelAngela Merkel
Chancellor of Germany
Emmanuel-MacronEmmanuel Macron
President of France
Justin-TrudeauJustin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Nancy-PelosiNancy Pelosi
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Barack-ObamaBarack Obama
44th U.S. President
Vladimir-PutinVladimir Putin
Russian President
Shinzo-AbeShinzō Abe
Prime Minister of Japan
Mariah Carey reveals bipolar disorder
Military plane crashes in Algeria killing 257 people
Trump taunts Russia, says US military response coming in Syria
Kardashians 'Rallying Around' Khloe Amid Tristan Thompson Cheating Allegations (Exclusive)
Merkel tells Putin not to exclude Ukraine from gas pipeline route
Syria chemical attack: US and Russia fail to reach UN agreement as tensions rise
'SHOTS fired' inside Los Angeles mall – Police SHOOTOUT with suspect
How Stormy Daniels and her brash lawyer cornered President Trump and Michael Cohen
Cruz challenges Zuckerberg about silencing conservatives
Zuckerberg confirms Facebook is working with US special counsel
Mark Zuckerberg apologises to U.S. Congress over massive Facebook breach
US, France and Britain agree to respond to Syrian gas attack
Man City 1 Liverpool 2: Salah and Firmino fire Reds through to Champions League semi-final
Roma 3 Barcelona 0: Lionel Messi and co. OUT in Champions League quarter-finals
Marie Colvin, reporter killed in Syria, was targeted by army, lawsuit alleges
Russia blocks US Syria resolution at the UN
Bashar al-Assad's British wife Asma is the 'First Lady of HELL'
Magnitude 6.2 quake strikes Chile, no damage reported
6 dead when Arizona plane crashes shortly after takeoff
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov accepts invitation to visit North Korea
Trump cancels South America trip to monitor Syria response
China's Xi promises to cut car import tariffs, buckles in trade war
Tony Blair calls for new leadership from ‘strong progressive centre’
Yulia Skripal discharged from hospital after Salisbury attack
British Gas PRICE INCREASE: Energy bills go up by £60 for FOUR MILLION homes
Don’t let Brexit undermine Ireland’s peace | Hillary Clinton
Mueller Reportedly Investigating Ukraine Payment To Trump Foundation
The Amazing Ways Google Uses Artificial Intelligence And Satellite Data To Prevent Illegal Fishing
Tiffany Haddish Helps Seth Meyers With "Jokes Seth Can't Tell"
Laura Ingraham Makes No Apologies In First Show Back From Break
Trump floats the possibility of firing Robert Mueller, criticizes Jeff Sessions
Haley says Russia's hands are 'covered in the blood of Syrian children'
Zuckerberg will defend Facebook as 'positive force in the world' in testimony
Trump to decide on US response to Syria gas attack 'within 48 hours'
Malta bus crash: 2 dead and 50 injured as bus hits tree – 2 UK kids in critical condition
Topless woman who charged at Bill Cosby appeared on 'Cosby Show'
Trump Discusses Timing Of Planned Meeting With Kim Jong Un
Harry and Meghan ask for donations instead of wedding gifts and name seven charities to benefit 
Syria gas attack: Theresa May condemns 'barbaric' targeting of civilians
Earthquake hits today MAP: Oklahoma, Nebraska and Los Angeles hit by earthquakes
FRANCE RIOTS: Tear gas fired as THOUSANDS of police clash with anti-capitalist protestors
Iran's rial at all-time low against the dollar
NASA has a plan to put robot bees on Mars
Russia claims Israeli jets behind strikes on Syrian airbase
Syria: missiles hit Homs airbase amid outrage over Douma attack
Revolutionary musical Hamilton takes home seven Olivier awards
World War 3: North Korea will DISARM arsenal of NUCLEAR missiles in SHOCK revelations
Facebook users find out if their data was shared with Cambridge Analytica, starting Monday
Musk posts picture of BFR's 'main body tool' to be used for interplanetary missions
Jimmy Kimmel Tries to End Feud With Sean Hannity; Apologizes For Joke
More turmoil at Germany's biggest bank: Deutsche Bank's CEO is out
Gas attack survivor to world: Shame on you
Sebastian Vettel wins in Bahrain after Kimi Raikkonen runs over mechanic
Nas on Netflix docuseries 'Rapture,' Killer Mike and why hip-hop's mainstream appeal won't be enough to kill the genre
Hungarians flock to cast their ballot as Viktor Orban's party faces calls for election enquiry
What is the Donald Trump v Jeff Bezos feud really about?
'Mom' Renewed for Season 6 at CBS
Trump suggests China will ease trade barriers ‘because it’s the right thing to do’
Jimmy Kimmel's jokes about first lady Melania Trump striking a nerve with viewers?
Trump: 'Big price to pay' after suspected chemical attack in Syria
Cardi B Reveals Baby Bump On ‘Saturday Night Live’
Trump Tower fire is second 2018 blaze in sprinkler-free residential tower
'SNL': Mark Zuckerberg Apologizes for Facebook Data Leak on "Weekend Update"
Dozens dead in possible gas attack in Syria; regime denies allegation
Russia wants meeting with U.K.’s Boris Johnson as public feud over ex-spy poisoning continues
Members of migrant caravan protest in Mexico City
Several dead as vehicle drives into crowd in Germany
Man Utd news: Jose Mourinho speaks out ahead of Man City title decider
Germany praises bail decision for ex-Catalan leader
Bollywood star Salman Khan granted bail after poaching conviction
14 killed in crash involving Canadian junior hockey team
Fallen South African president Jacob Zuma makes appearance at corruption trial
'Wouldn't YOU be scared?' Sergei Skripal's cousin 'does NOT trust UK' over poisoning
Tiffany Haddish Role-Plays Imaginary Date With Brad Pitt
China: Ties with Russia at 'best level in history'
US sanctions Putin's son-in-law
An ‘uncomfortable’ exchange between Spain’s Queen Letizia and Queen Sofia was caught on video. And the country is aghast
Hawaii volcano ERUPTION: Terrifying Kilauea lava dome bursts 70ft high in eruption
Israeli troops kill 6 as Gaza border protest erupts
Elon Musk's nightmarish warning: AI could become 'an immortal dictator from which we would never escape'
Tiffany Haddish Comedy Series in Development at HBO
Facebook announces changes to combat election meddling
Kate Hudson announces pregnancy -- and baby's gender -- in excitement-filled video
Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy review – Bronx Cinderella grinds her heel into hip-hop sexism
China sperm bank asks for ‘Communist only' semen donations
Manchester Airport DEATH: Man dies 'after assault' - police operation launched
'Luxury Space Hotel' to Launch in 2021
Istanbul hospital fire: SHOCKING footage shows HUGE fire engulf hospital building
Jimmy Kimmel Fires Back at Sean Hannity After Criticism of Melania Trump Jokes: "He's Lost His Mind"
Twitter Suspended 1.2 Million Accounts For ‘Terrorist Content’
Time’s Up, Men: More Than 300 Women File For House Races
Trump breaks silence on Stormy Daniels
Trump threatens $100 billion in additional tariffs on China
Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye sentenced to 24 years in prison
California earthquake: 5.3 magnitude quake strikes off coast amid BIG ONE fears
Yulia Skripal says she is recovering but disoriented
Kim Kardashian shares first family photo with 3 kids
Four killed in Turkey university shooting
US diplomats leave embassy in Moscow on expulsion deadline day
Google employees demand the company pull out of Pentagon AI project
Watch Ted Cruz’s Reaction When Asked To Take A DNA Test To Prove He’s Human
Nurse Fired For Saying Stephon Clark Deserved To Die Raises $20,000 For Herself
Trump calls for rapid end to mission in Syria
Brazil's former president Lula facing arrest ahead of elections as court rejects bid to avoid prison
Scientists call for boycott of South Korean university over killer robot fears
Why Kim Jong Un made a secret trip to China
Russia calls UN security council meeting over nerve agent attack
Italy earthquake: Perugia hit by ‘strong’ quake
Facebook revises Cambridge Analytica data breach up to 87M users
Maya Angelou Honored With Google Doodle On Her 90th Birthday
Ray Wilkins dead: England football legend dies after heart attack aged 61
Facebook apologizes for blocking Catholic university’s ad of Jesus on the cross
Outgoing national security adviser rips Russia in final public remarks
North Korea makes rare apology for banning press from K-pop concert
4 Marines feared dead in helicopter crash near US-Mexico border
Apple hires Google's former AI boss to help improve Siri
Female shooter at YouTube headquarters is identified
Chinese defense chief says his trip to Russia is a signal to the US
Juventus 0 - Real Madrid 3: Cristiano Ronaldo wonder goal lights up Champions League clash
SpaceX Has Launched an Experimental Space Junk Sweeper Into Orbit
BREAKING: Gunshots reported near YouTube headquarters in California
Cardi B to Join Jimmy Fallon as First-Ever 'Tonight Show' Co-Host
Jenna Fischer Wears a Towel for 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' Interview
Trump pledges to guard border with military until wall complete
Disney offers to buy Sky News to ease Murdoch's £11.7bn takeover
Saudi crown prince says Israel has 'right to homeland' in sign of normalising ties 
Facebook blames bug for saving users' deleted videos
Trump asks federal judge to order private arbitration in Stormy Daniels case
Jeremy Corbyn criticised for attending radical Jewish event
Putin SHOWS OFF new weapon to stop NUCLEAR ATTACK on Russia in wake of tensions with West
Instagram abandons its Apple Watch app
Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum announce separation
Russia-Turkey-Iran solution for Syria leaves key issues unresolved
White House confirms Trump, Putin discussed summit
Winnie Mandela, anti-apartheid activist, dies aged 81
ESPN makes a bid for morning TV ratings glory with 'Get Up!'
SpaceX Cargo Mission Launches to the Space Station Today
Snapchat is mocking Facebook and its Russian political ads controversy with a new April Fools' Day filter
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un attends South Korean pop stars’ show in Pyongyang
China retaliates against Trump tariffs by targeting US food imports
Turkey President calls Israel's Netanyahu 'leader of a TERRORIST state' in VICIOUS attack
Same-sex marriage supporter easily wins Costa Rica elections
Chinese space lab falls to Earth over Pacific Ocean
As the White House releases a photo of its interns, the internet asks: Why so few people of colour?
Melania Trump runs White House from 'behind the scenes,' new book claims
Trump: 'NO MORE DACA DEAL'
Queen Elizabeth II, royal family attend Easter service
Pope celebrates Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square before tens of thousands
Stephen Colbert Takes On Mark Zuckerberg, Proposes a Revamped Facebook
Former England captain Ray Wilkins in critical condition
Stephen Hawking's Funeral Brings Out Hundreds To English Streets
OnePlus 6 definitely will include THIS crucial feature, company confirms
Two dead after home-built plane crashes in California
College student who had distressing behavior, rifles will be deported for visa violation
Foreign Office considers Russian consular access to Yulia Skripal
AI could threaten democracy: Macron issues warning
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding reported to cost a grand $45 million
UN calls for inquiry after Gaza's most violent day in 4 years
Trump continues attacks on Amazon and Washington Post
Baton Rouge officer fired, another suspended in 2016 fatal shooting of Alton Sterling
Putin hits back at Britain in SHOCK move: Russia orders 50 MORE UK diplomats to 'GO HOME'
Stephen Hawking funeral LIVE: Eddie Redmayne leads the great and the good to pay tribute
Turkish president recites Muslim prayer at the Hagia Sophia
5 awesome new iPhone features in iOS 11.3 that no one is talking about
Notre Dame beats UConn, will face Mississippi State in NCAA Women's Championship
Whose idea was it? Who took the sandpaper? The questions David Warner didn't answer
14.7 million visitors to U.S. could face social media screening
Russia complains about alleged search of airplane in London
Google Ending URL Shortener Support In Favor Of Dynamic Links
James Corden's "News Team" Is Determined to Figure Out #WhoBitBeyonce
Jimmy Carter Rips Trump: Apparently, America Wants A Jerk For President
Noor Salman, wife of Orlando Pulse shooter, found not guilty
HUGE fire in Manchester city centre as black smoke fills the sky
Confused Stephen Colbert on Trump's Ohio Rally: "'Roseanne' Is About the Trumps?"
Russia releases 'Satan 2' missile test footage
India sends notice to Facebook and Cambridge Analytica over the alleged data breach
At least 6 dead, 500 hurt after clashes along Israel-Gaza border
Russia Ramps up Diplomatic Clash, Expels More UK Diplomats
Cameron Diaz says she's 'actually retired'
Howard University students demand answers in financial aid scandal
Cardi B Drops New Track "Be Careful"
Fox News: ads pulled from Laura Ingraham show for mocking Parkland survivor
Tokyo hit by 5.3 magnitude EARTHQUAKE as ‘BUILDINGS SHAKE’ in Japan capital
TRAGEDY as 21 people DIE in blazing bus INFERNO in Thailand
SpaceX gets FCC approval to offer broadband internet service with satellites
India limits visits to Taj Mahal to 3 hours per person
Daughter of Russian ex-spy who was poisoned no longer in critical condition
5.8 magnitude earthquake ROCKS Solomon Islands - Pacific Ring of Fire on alert
Netflix "Acquires" Seth Rogen in Comedy Special Stunt
Russia expels US diplomats and shuts consulate in tit-for-tat move
Opening Day: Everything you need to know to start baseball season
Cheating-spouse website Ashley Madison has its affairs in order after notorious data breach
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi heading for landslide 90% victory in Egypt election
Facebook to stop allowing data brokers such as Experian to target users
Elon Musk says Mars colony a hedge against World War III
Trump slams Amazon for 'putting many thousands of retailers out of business'
'Enough is enough', say marchers at Paris rally for murdered Holocaust survivor
Vital Boeing computer network INFECTED with WannaCry VIRUS - is it safe to fly?
EU parents warned children need papers to stay in UK after Brexit
Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan for 1st time since she was shot
Close