Belgian police are warning users not to use the Facebook Reactions feature to respond to posts if they want to protect their privacy. In February, the series of six emoticons, allowing users to express a range of emotions from anger to love, were added to the original thumbs-up option. They came in response to calls for a ‘Dislike’ button.
However, the new expressions are another big ‘like’ for Facebook and a ‘dislike’ for its users — according to Belgian police who claim the site is using them as a way to collect information on people to target advertising toward them. In a statement released on their official website on Wednesday, the Belgian force warned people to avoid using the series of emoticons if they want to preserve their privacy.
The statement on the police website reads, “The icons help not only express your feelings, they also help Facebook assess the effectiveness of the ads on your profile.” It adds, “One more reason not to click if you want to protect your privacy.”
The statement warns that users are simply a ‘product’ to Facebook, claiming their reactions to posts are helping the social networking giant build up a profile of them. As a result of the profiling, the site will target ads it thinks users will be more receptive to based on how they are reacting to specific posts at the time.
“By limiting the number of icons to six, Facebook is counting on you to express your thoughts more easily so that the algorithms that run in the background are more effective,” the police said. “By mouse clicks you can let them know what makes you happy.”
In short, the moment Facebook gauges that the user is in a good mood, it will cash in on that by showing them an ad.
It’s no secret Facebook’s growth is fuelled by advertising. In 2015, the company received 96.5% of its revenue from ads, which generated a staggering $17.08 billion in revenue. Just days after former Facebook employees accused the platform of censoring stories while pushing others, few will be surprised to learn the marketing champion has seized another opportunity to do what it does best — collect more information on its users.
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Full Statement (via Belgium Police) Google Translated: Facebook Reactions, a new intrusion into your privacy
Facebook never misses an opportunity to improve the collection of information about us and they proved it again last February. This innovation has generated a lot of questions if we are to believe your mails. The “like” button – thumbs up, you know. But many users complained of being unable to express their disappointment or not being able to say they disliked content.
Facebook decided to meet their demand. After an investigation followed by a test phase carried out in Ireland and Spain, you saw appear in late February, six new small icons. If we had to describe them, we could say that we now have a symbol to say “I love”, another to express his joy, a third say to his surprise, and others to share his amusement, his sadness or even anger.
The question that some of you have asked me was why Facebook limited them to six.
In fact, as you know, for Facebook, we are also a product. The reactions that we express it possible to know us better and so, as stated in the social network, to offer us the best possible experience in terms of our profile that is more accurate.
But Facebook is also a marketing champion. It now has a medium which allows it to measure our reactions to the publications of our friends or pages that we follow. And now, in addition to allowing you to express your feelings, those little icons will also help verify the effectiveness of advertisements that are present on your profile.
Limiting them to six, Facebook account the fact that you express your thoughts more easily allowing the algorithms running in the background to target you. With your clicks, it will be possible to determine those contents that put you in a good mood. So that will help Facebook find the perfect location, on your profile, allowing it to display content that will arouse your curiosity but also to choose the time you present it. If it appears that you are in a good mood phase, so it can deduce that you are more receptive and able to sell spaces explaining advertisers that they will have more chance to see you react.
In conclusion, it will be one more reason not to click too fast if you want to preserve your privacy.
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